Wine: The Time is Ripe
From standout wines to the best cellar doors and accommodation, here are the best ways to explore the vineyards of Hawke’s Bay
A series of stellar vintages means it is a great time to visit Hawke’s Bay wine country. A dynamic selection of cellar doors, an increasingly impressive dining scene and a growing variety of vineyard accommodation combine to make it a great place for a wine lover’s getaway. Here are ideas for cellar doors to visit with wines to try, as well as some winery-run establishments where you can eat or stay.
A stone’s throw from Havelock North is the laid-back but chic cellar door of Black Barn. As well as the chardonnays Black Barn does so well, you can try products rarely seen outside the premises, such as SV cabernet franc and the newly released sangiovese and tempranillo.
Sample: An eclectic new release is Black Barn’s inaugural “Orange” wine, made from white grapes fermented with their skins to impart an amber hue and pithy texture.
Eat: Black Barn Bistro, for fresh seasonal fare looking out over the vineyard.
Stay: The winery has 17 self-contained luxury retreats scattered across the region’s hills, riversides or beaches, which can accommodate between four people in the eponymous “Black Barn” in the heart of the vineyard to 12 in “The White House” on Waimarama beach.
READ: Where to Stay: Black Barn, Havelock North
CLEARVIEW ESTATE WINERY
Something of an institution and a must-visit establishment for chardonnay lovers is Clearview on the Te Awanga coast. Housed in a “red shed” that was once a Ford Motors garage, its long-standing cellar door serves up samples of the estate’s iconic chardonnays, along with a plethora of other varieties, and its unique fortified, the Sea Red, pioneered by Clearview winemaker Tim Turvey.
Sample: Clearview’s opulent Reserve Chardonnay is a local classic, or try its baby brother, the Beachhead.
Eat: Great casual dining by the ocean using many products grown it the estate’s kitchen garden.
Stay: Tucked behind the winery is the historic Clearview Homestead, which began life as a tobacco shed before becoming the home of the Vidal winemaking family. The smaller two-bed rimu-lined “Shearer’s Quarters” to its rear can also be booked separately.
One of the most impressive premises on the Hawke’s Bay wine trail is Craggy Range’s showcase Giants Winery set in dramatic setting overlooked by Te Mata Peak. In a building inspired by the legend of Te Mata — The Fallen Giant — visitors are provided with an interactive tasting experience that explores the terroirs of its different single vineyard wines.
Sample: For the lofty pinnacle of Craggy Range’s production, try its top trio of wines, the Prestige Collection, which are always available to taste.
Eat: The winery’s Terroir Restaurant is onsite; offering well-executed French bistro-inspired fare with Craggy Range-based wine list offering a range of library wines.
Stay: Craggy Range has various accommodation options nestled among the vines behind the Giants Winery. Choose from the chic boutique cottages or the newly opened four-bedroom luxury lodge with its Te Mata Peak views, pool and in-lodge sommelier service delivering back-vintage and large format Craggy Range wines.
If you’re looking for something different, Trinity Hill’s the place. For some years, as well as making splendid examples of Hawke’s Bay staples such as red blends and chardonnay, it has branched out into more eclectic varieties. These include Spain’s tempranillo, Italy’s montepulciano and even Portugal’s touriga nacional, which it makes into one of the country’s finest port-style fortifieds.
Sample: Trinity Hill’s vibrant, rich and juicy-fruited tempranillo is one of the best examples of the variety being made in New Zealand.
Over the past decade, Elephant Hill has emerged as one of the region’s top producers of the up-and-coming syrah variety, as well as a serious contender in other varieties. These can be explored in the cellar door of its stylish copper-clad winery, with colours echoing those of the sea on its doorstep.
Sample: All Elephant Hill’s syrahs shine — for a real treat try its Reserve Syrah 2013, one of the finest examples from this vintage.
Eat: One of the country’s top winery restaurants serving stunning dishes that look as amazing as they taste.
Get a real taste of Hawke’s Bay’s wine history with a visit to New Zealand’s oldest working winery. Founded in 1851, Mission Estate is housed in an imposing former seminary building on a hill and offers expansive views across Napier and tastings from its extensive range of regional and age-worthy wines.
Sample: A 2013 cabernet merlot — the dense and elegant Jewelstone Antoine from this exceptional vintage is one for the cellar.
Eat: The building also boasts an elegant restaurant serving modern European-inspired cuisine at lunch and dinner daily.
Hawke’s Bay Wine Celebration
You can sample what Hawke’s Bay’s wines have to offer without even leaving the city at the inaugural Hawke’s Bay Wine Celebration this weekend in Auckland. For this event — formerly known Hot Red Hawke’s Bay — 36 Hawke’s Bay wineries will be pouring a selection of their wines, providing guests with the opportunity to try their wares and meet the makers. Wineries involved include Hawke’s Bay stalwarts such as Mission Estate, Vidal and Church Road, along with newer names such as Supernatural Wine Co and Easthope Family Winegrowers. As well as the tastings there will be master classes, the chance to sample other Hawke’s Bay fare and a “Hawke’s Bay Speakeasy”— an open mic area where wine experts can express their opinions.
• The Auckland event is on September 24 in Shed 10 with a day session from noon to 3.30pm and evening session from 4.30pm to 8pm. Tickets can be purchased through eventfinda.co.nz.