Known for exceptional produce, seafood, meat, cheese and olive oil, this stretch of the North Island’s sun-drenched east coast is a food lover’s dream, ripe with restaurants, farmers’ markets, gourmet vineyards, and welcoming farm gates. The tasty region’s picturesque river valleys, terraces and hillside vineyards now produce some of the best wines in the world.
Hawke’s Bay is the oldest wine region in New Zealand and the country’s second-largest, with over 145 grape-growers and 90 wineries. Once dubbed “the fruit bowl of New Zealand” for its prime apples, pears and peaches, grapes have now taken over in this wine region where the tasty terroir is often compared to that of Bordeaux, France.
French missionaries established Mission Estate back in 1851. These days, New Zealand’s oldest winery has an international reputation for superb quality wines, and over the past 22 years, some great parties too. The Mission Estate annual concert has become one of the country’s biggest parties of the year with major international superstars performing for sellout crowds at the historic winery’s outdoor amphitheatre. A definite highlight on any trip to New Zealand!
New Zealand is known worldwide for superb Sauvignon Blanc, often dominating space on shelves in the New Zealand section of our wine stores in Canada. And while Hawke’s Bay is producing some wonderful white wines, reds are king here in this sunny maritime climate with its unique terrain.
“The Ngaruroro River you see meandering here has changed its course due to earthquakes and floods over many thousands of years, leaving behind gravels that can be more than 100 metres deep, and a unique soil type that’s perfect for premium red wine growing,” says Trinity Hill winemaker Warren Gibson of the region’s distinctive Gimblett Gravels. “We’re starting to get a good range of our wines into Canada, including some of our Gimblett Gravels wines and our top end Homage, Trinity Hill’s flagship award-winning wine which is a wonderfully round rich Syrah inspired by the famed Cote Rotie of the Northern Rhone wine region in France.”
Elephant Hill is one of Hawke’s Bay’s newest wineries, located on the idyllic Te Awanga Coast, where you can enjoy gourmet cuisine paired with the perfect wine in their elegant restaurant, taking in views of vineyards, the picturesque Pacific Ocean and iconic cliffs of Cape Kidnappers.
Ash Ridge Wines is the perfect place to begin your bike ride to nine of Hawke’s Bay’s finest wineries, with On Yer Bike Winery Tours. Hawke’s Bay boasts over 180 kilometers of cycle trails, and The Wineries Ride is a fun way to sample some wonderful wines and gourmet foods while taking in the stunning scenery of the Ngatarawa Triangle, Bridge Pa and Gimblett Gravels as you cycle past vineyards, olive groves, orchards, horse studs, and fertile farmland.
Legendary Te Mata Peak offers stunning “Middle-Earth” type scenery and panoramic views over Craggy Range Winery, a popular wedding destination with award-winning Cellar Door and Terrior Restaurant. Start with their signature Steamed Clams entree – “Little neck” clams steamed in Craggy Range wine verjus with saffron mustard cream, shallot and tomato petals paired with the 2011 Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc.