Hawke's Bay is the oldest wine region in New Zealand and the second largest. Located at 39.4°S, in the North Island of NZ, our climate is maritime and similar to Bordeaux.
The region is New Zealand's leading producer of full-bodied red wines. Red wines dominate, with 88% of New Zealand's production (tonnes) of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grapes in 2016. We also specialise in rich, complex Chardonnays.
Hawke's Bay wine has beginnings in 1851 pioneering innovation and leadership. By the early 1920's, Mission Estate, Te Mata Estate, Vidal Estate, McDonalds Winery and Glenvale Winery (now Esk Valley Winery) were all established in the region. The soils and climate that so excited the early winemaking efforts of those pioneers continues to provide the inspiration for the current generation of Hawke's Bay winemakers.
It is now New Zealand's second largest wine region and the largest premium red wine producing region in the country.
The earliest vineyards in Hawke's Bay were established on the coast and in areas close to the towns of Napier, Havelock North and Hastings. Later development extended to the Heretaunga Plains and more recently to the edges of the alluvial plains and extend up the regions river valleys. Smaller plantings are exploring hillside sites around the fringes of the Heretaunga Plains as well as higher altitude sites of inland Central Hawke's Bay.
Great wineries to visit
Gimblett Gravels represents 34 wineries and winegrowers in the premium wine growing area of Hawkes Bay.
The very special gravelled soils and unique climatic conditions are key elements in producing superb wines. The district has been building a reputation for high quality red wines from Bordeaux varieties and Syrah.
The Gimblett Gravels district is up to three degrees celsius warmer during the day in summer and autumn compared with most other areas in Hawkes Bay. The evenings are also warmer because of thermal conductivity in the stony soils.
Wines produced in the area target the ultra-premium market in New Zealand and markets in the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States, Australia, Japan and Canada.
The Gourmet Cellar Store features local and international food ingredients, culinary and gift ware, wine and cooking books, as well as cheeses from a climate-controlled cheese larder.
The Village Press is a larger Hawkes Bay oil producer and operates a special facility at Sileni Estates. Here, during harvest, you can see the age-old process of creating a range of extra virgin olive oils. The Village Press also produces tapenades and other olive products which are available in the Cellar Store.
Craggy Range Winery
Craggy Range Winery is a small, family-owned business. A partnership between the Peabody family and vigneron Steve Smith, MW, it began in 1997 with a shared vision. First the selection of the very best land and the planting of intensive, low-cropping vineyards with varieties ideally suited to each parcel of land, and secondly, the creation of innovative world-class winemaking facilities.
Architecturally inspired, Craggy Range Winery sits at the base of Te Mata Peak. Unique in its function and presentation is a specialist dual-purpose Chardonnay and Bordeaux varietals wine cellar.
A tasting room and the splendid Terroir Restaurant provide visitors with a comprehensive food and wine experience.
Black Barn Vineyards
Black Barn is a small vineyard just five minutes from the village of Havelock North. The focus of the vineyard is on Bordeaux-styled red varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Their award-winning whites also include Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. All the wines are estate grown and the fruit is hand-picked. With just over 20 acres, many of the wines are available only through the cellar door.
The elevated north-facing site on the lower slopes of the Te Mata hills is not only an excellent location for grape growing, it also provides stunning views, a warm sheltered micro-climate and a perfect spot for the visitor to spend an hour or two.
You can taste the wines, have lunch at the Bistro, spend a summer Saturday morning at the Growers Market, and attend an evening concert at the amphitheatre.
Te Awa Winery
Set in the Gimblett Gravels district, one of the premium Hawkes Bay wine growing sites, Te Awa’s rustic charm is complemented by its tranquil garden setting.
Te Awa is a single estate winery, the unique terroir of the vineyard being fundamental in crafting fine, balanced wines. The wines reflect the site, the grapes and the growing season.
At the spacious restaurant the chef and winemaker work closely together in order to pair fine wines with novel cuisine for a memorable dining experience.
Mission Estate Winery
Mission Estate Winery is New Zealand’s oldest winemaker. In 1838 a group of French missionaries arrived and established a Marist mission in New Zealand. Besides being a teaching order, the Fathers followed the tradition of quality winemaking. Grapes were planted to produce both sacramental and table wine. The first record of a commercial sale dates from 1870 when a parcel of mostly dry reds was sold.
The Estate has never lost sight of its French heritage as, over the years, the Brothers of the Order have travelled to France to study viticulture and wine making skills. Today it is one of Hawkes Bay’s largest established wineries, with a well-respected reputation in both the New Zealand and international markets.
As well as being the country’s oldest winery, it boasts a beautiful restaurant offering both indoor and outdoor dining, with panoramic vineyard and city views.
Church Road Winery
Founded in 1897, the Church Road Winery was already more than 90 years old when it was purchased in 1988 and completely renovated, turning it into a modern boutique winery that applies hands-on winemaking techniques to the very best of the Hawkes Bay harvest.
The winery's commitment to centuries-old winemaking techniques is immediately evident. Giant French oak 'cuves' (wine vats) are used to ferment the winery's Bordeaux-style red wines, before they begin ageing in the French oak barriques which line the winery's cellars.
The Church Road wine museum is the only one in New Zealand. It is housed underground in old, disused wine vats where the adjoining cellar walls have been opened up. The oldest winemaking relics in the country are here, some dating back to the 3000-year-old Iron Age.
The winery is set in a 1.5ha park, home to the annual Church Road Jazz concert. It's fringed by native gardens at the front of the winery and a 1ha Merlot vineyard to the rear.
Trinity Hill Winery
At Trinity Hill's Gimblett Road vineyards, the river stones gently release their heat long after the sun has set, helping to promote perfect ripening of the grapes. Here, vines reach deep into the stony, free-draining soil of the old Ngaruroro riverbed, sheltered from the prevailing westerly winds, and basking in an abundance of dry, warm weather.
The winegrowers at Trinity Hill grow moderate crops to consistently produce concentrated flavour and colour intensity in the finished wine. This is one reason they have been successful in winning the acclaim of wine writers, judges and enthusiasts around the world.
Ngatarawa Wines is one of New Zealand’s earliest boutique wineries. It is named after the Ngatarawa district, which means “between the ridges”.
The winery is very picturesque, located in the historic Ngatarawa racing stables, which were refurbished when the winery was established in 1981. Ngatarawa’s main varieties are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling (predominately for harvest wines).
Matariki is named after the Maori legend surrounding the cluster of stars that herald the lunar New Year and provide guidance for the growing season.
John & Rosemary O’Connor own 60 hectares stretching from Gimblett Road to their winery on Kirkwood Road. Their principal vineyard sits on the old Ngaruroro riverbed. The tapestry of soil has been sculpted into a unique vineyard of individual plots each matched to classic grape varieties, mainly Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Alpha Domus vineyard and winery is managed and operated by two generations of the Ham family. It was planted in 1991 and the first wines produced in 1996.
The vineyard is located near the Bridge Pa Aerodrome. The logo uses an image of the tiger moth aeroplane, which is often seen flying over the vineyard.
Natural conditions encourage low-cropping which is ideal for quality wine production. Alpha Domus wines are made exclusively from their estate grown grapes.