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Wine Tasting in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand

Craggy Range View

Craggy Range View

So many wineries, so little time!

Think of Napier and many may think of Art Deco buildings, which is a fair call.  As for me, when I think of Napier I think of Hawke’s Bay wines!  It would seem rude to visit Napier and not spend some time wine tasting so before we even arrived in the town we diverted our route via Havelock North for….

Craggy Range

Craggy Range

Craggy Range

Craggy Range is a specialist producer of single vineyard wines.   Regardless of the wine, Craggy Range is worth a visit for the location alone as it sits at the foot of Te Mata Peak escarpment!  The Giants Winery, aptly named, is home to an award-winning restaurant (Cuisine Magazine Winery Restaurant of the Year), Terrôir and a grand, spacious tasting room.  Friendly staff take you through a selection of wines for a $5 tasting fee (deducted from any purchase made).  We were taken with “Sophia” which is made from Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes which grow in the Gimblett Gravels vineyard, which is fast gaining in reputation in matching, and in some cases beating, the style and quality of Bordeaux wines.

The following day we visited:

Te Mata

No visit to Napier and Hawke’s Bay would be complete for me until I paid a visit to Te Mata as I have long been a fan of their various delicious wines.  Te Mata Estate is New Zealand’s oldest winery, dating from the early 1890’s, and a New Zealand family owned winery.

We have a bottle of Coleraine cellaring away as I write, considered by some to be one of the greatest reds in New Zealand! It would be fabulous but my wine budget does not stretch to drinking such highly acclaimed wines on a weekly basis so Te Mata’s extensive range of wines still manage to hit the spot.  Always thrilled when Te Mata’s Elston Chardonnay is on offer, this fruity Chard goes down a treat.  The Woodthorpe range is always a supermarket staple, providing a good wine for a good price.  Friendly staff took us through the tasting selection at the cellar door.

Black Barn

I have to admit to not being familiar with Black Barn wines, but friends in West Auckland had built their house based on inspiration from Black Barn’s winery restaurant building, so that alone made me want to visit (shallow, I know!).  Fabulous buildings, nice amphitheatre up the hill used for concerts and friendly staff made it a welcome visit.  A small vineyard where the grapes are hand-picked, most of the wine is sold at the cellar door or through the Black Barn website.

The place was busy, with a full car park including a bus (oh no, not a bus tour!) and the restaurant was packed to the rafters.  A large group were going through tastings but someone saw us standing around and took us through the wines on offer for tasting that day – particular highlights being the Chardonnays and I even bought a bottle of the oaked Chard which is most unlike me as I normally detest oaked Chardonnay!  Generous tastings with friendly, slightly cheeky, banter made it worth the trip – oh yeh, some great wine too!

Clearview Estate Winery

Driving out to Cape Kidnappers we noticed Clearview and swung past to check it out.  The walls showed off a number of awards gained for the wines over the years although I was not at all familiar with any of them.  No friendly banter or much information at this tasting, the lady doing the tastings was also helping the restaurant which was busy.  Quite a considerable number of wines available for tasting, I really liked the crisp, dry unwooded Chardonnay and the spicy Merlot Malbec.

The bustling restaurant looked like it would be a pleasant lunch spot, with al fresco dining also on offer at this almost sea-side winery.

Mission Estate



Competing with Te Mata for the claim of New Zealand’s oldest winery is Mission Estate, claiming to be the birthplace of New Zealand wine and the oldest winemaker in the country!  Certainly it is in a more imposing and beautifully restored seminary building, offering a charming wine tasting experience and lovely views across the countryside.  Friendly, informative staff take you through the selection of wines – already aware of Mission Estate and appreciative of their wines I had no wine revelations, although I did taste their Vineyard Selection Late Harvest Semillon for the first time – not too sweet the botrytised fruit from 28 year old vines was fresh and fruity with a hint of sweet as it goes down – Yum!

Unfortunately the restaurant staff were not so friendly – stuck up is a more suitable description, which rather puts me off returning to Mission Estate to enjoy a dining experience in the beautifully positioned restaurant, as I first thought I might.

So many wineries, so little time!  Looking forward to returning to Hawke’s Bay to visit more wineries in the future – what a life!


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2 Responses

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  1. Avalon says

    So many wineries, so little time!

    You have probably summed up the whole of New Zealand there you know 🙂

  2. Paola says

    Hah! You are probably right!!… Doing my best to get round them – heading to Blenheim and Nelson over the holidays so hope to get a few more under my ever expanding belt!! 🙂