7 September 2017 | Written by Phoebe Joiner

Your guide to the top wine tasting spots in the North Island

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Planning your next vineyard tour? Deciding where to go on your next wine tasting holiday can be difficult, especially in a country abundant in quality wine! That’s why we’ve taken care of the work and created a list of our favourite New Zealand Wineries, starting with the North Island. Cheers!


Northland

Karikari Estate - wine tasting

Credit: http://scottlandscaping.co.nz/

With a revitalised wine culture, Northland produces warm and fruity wines that taste like its near-tropical climate. The specialties of this region are the Chardonnay, Cabernet, Shiraz, Pinotage and Merlot.

Wineries to visit:

  • Okahu Estate: Located just outside of Kaitaia, this boutique winery makes award-winning Chardonnays and Syrahs. The mosaic of flavours found in their wines are due to the clay, sandstone and ancient kauri forest that make up the soil. Their cellar door offers free tastings paired with local chutneys, sauces and nuts.
  • Lochiel Estate: Part of the Mangawhai wine district, Lochiel Estate is a family run boutique winery. They produce small batches of quality wines from grapes grown and hand-picked right on the property. Not only do they produce excellent wine, but hosts Gary and Liz are also famously friendly, hard-working and informative hosts.
  • Karikari Estate: Settled on the Karikari Peninsula, this is New Zealand’s most northern winery. Their Chardonnay, Pinotage and Syrah have won them many International awards and recognition, including Bronze at the 2016 San Francisco International Wine Show. The actual site has a winery cafe where you can pair their wine with a scrumptious platter.

Find holiday homes in Northland here, and the Far North here.


Waiheke

Man O' War Vineyard, Wine tasting North Island

Man O’ War Vineyard location (Credit: http://www.manowarvineyards.co.nz/)

Just a short ferry ride from Auckland central, Waiheke is a great destination for a quick escape. Most of the wineries here produce lovely Chardonnays, Rosés and Syrahs. To make life super easy, there are a number of companies that run day tours from Auckland central. Often you can find a good deal on Grabone if you’re looking to just go for the day.

Wineries to visit

  • Cable Bay: Located on the western end of Waiheke, Cable Bay winery has a great view looking back to Auckland. They have vineyards in the Awatere Valley, Central Otago and Waiheke, meaning they produce a large range of top quality wines from a range of different climates. The site itself has two top-notch restaurants and a large lawn for relaxing summer afternoons.
  • Man O’ War: This winery is located right on the beach – perfect for a hot summer’s day! Their vineyard stretches over 150 acres and enjoys a blend of exposed volcanic and sheltered clay soils that produce a large range of high quality whites and reds. Their cellar door is open to free wine tastings, and there’s a number of fun activities set up on the lawn.

Sometimes it’s nicer to stay a little longer. Find holiday homes in Waiheke here, or check out our guide to the area.

Wine tasting day-trip from Auckland, view our Auckland City Stays collection here.


Gisborne

Wrights Wines, New Zealand wine tasting

Wrights Wines. Credit: http://www.wrightswines.co.nz/

The most eastern point of the North Island brings cool breezes and warm temperatures. This climate, teamed with Gisborne’s clay and alluvial soils, brings a world-class Chardonnay. Usually a popular time to visit here is during the Gisborne food and wine festival, typically running over Labour Weekend. While there is no festival planned for 2017, local wineries are still putting on events, bound to attract wine-lovers from all over!

Wineries to visit

  • Wrights Vineyard and Winery: Wrights wines have the oldest plantations in New Zealand for Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay and Syrah. The actual site has an inviting cellar door complete with a restaurant and plenty of play space for kids. This makes it the perfect setting for a late lunch and tasting session.
  • Millton Vineyards and Winery: Millton produces three distinct wine labels, all using something called a biodynamic method (no nasty sprays). The wine of choice here is their Chenin Blanc, but they also have a lovely Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir. Overall it’s a great spot with even better wine.
  • Bushmere Estate: This is another excellent lunch stop on your wine-tasting adventure. Their restaurant serves fantastic food, making it a popular choice for tourists and locals. They run informative wine tastings, and specialise in Chardonnay. This is also a beautiful venue for weddings and other functions.

Hawkes Bay

Craggy Range Winery, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand wine tasting

Craggy Range Winery (Credit: http://www.explorecentralnorthislandnz.com/)

The Hawkes Bay is a beautiful part of New Zealand, and is well-known for its quality wine from over 100 vineyards. The first vines were planted here back in 1851, and since then the varied climate and young soils have produced great Chardonnays, Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots, Cabernet Francs and Syrahs. When you visit this area we recommend reserving a full day or two for wine tasting, there’s just too much choice!

Wineries to visit

  • Te Mata Estate: Just outside of Hastings town centre lies the impressive Te Mata Estate. Established back in 1896, this is one of the older wineries in the region. They take pride in their five varieties of wine, and are world-renowned as a prestigious winemaker, now exporting to 42 different countries. This is one not to miss!
  • Craggy Range: Visiting their Hawkes Bay winery makes for one of the best wine tasting experiences in the region. They’re new world wine makers with great ambitions, and their passion will come through as you taste their latest releases. It’s also the site of the award-winning restaurant ‘Terroir’, set among a stunning landscape of dramatic mountains.
  • Elephant Hill: Another new winery, Elephant Hill has a dedication to quality, innovation and respect for the environment. Their architecturally designed cellar door and restaurant mirrors these values, and is open for tastings and meals seven days a week. They produce a range of superb wines but they’re most proud of their vintages that border on perfection.

Inspired? Find holiday homes in the Hawkes Bay here, or discover more about the Hawkes Bay area here.


Wairarapa

Ata Rangi Vineyard, New Zealand wine tasting

Credit: http://www.thedenizen.co.nz/

There has been a recent boom in boutique wineries around the Martinborough region. Their specialty; world class Pinot Noir. The vines enjoy a similar climate to the famous Marlborough region, and most are planted on land with free-draining soils. Overall it’s a fantastic destination for a weekend of wine tasting, especially for nearby Wellingtonians.

Wineries to visit

  • Ata Rangi: This is a small family run winery, but they have great ambitions to perfect the art of marrying elegance and power in the Pinot Noir. They’ve been around for 36 years now, and their oldest Pinot Noir vines are 31 years old. Their artful approach to winemaking has earned them presence in some of the world’s best restaurants!
  • Nga Waka: A passion for winemaking, a shoestring budget and four hectares of Martinborough land started Nga Waka in 1988. The owner Roger Parkinson is committed to producing wines that contribute to New Zealand’s distinct wine culture. The stand-outs at this winery are the Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.
  • Martinborough Vineyard: Martinborough Vineyard’s Pinot Noir has been ranked first in the world, ahead of bottles valued at over five thousand dollars. If that isn’t reason enough to visit, they’re also super handy to the town centre – convenience and quality at its best!

Find holiday homes in the Wairarapa here, or take a look at our general guide to the area.


Over to you…
If you have any favourite wineries or exciting plans for an upcoming wine tasting holiday, share them with us in the comments! We’d love to hear about them.
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