New Zealand

New Zealand Best Wine Experiences

Pia Knarston

Pia Knarston  |  3 November 2020


Waiheke has around 30 boutique wineries scattered around the island with tasting rooms and beautiful restaurants. The island is best known for its high value red wines based on Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc.

At Peacock Sky, you can experience a ‘degustation’ wine tasting in the French tradition. The petite portion you taste with your wine is the perfect match in food and brings out the best in the wine. Casita Miro, another lovely vineyard; try something different and taste Madame Rouge.

Man O’War Vineyard has a fabulous location at the beach and you can taste some beautiful Bordeaux blends at their 18th century style villa. Cable Bay and Mudbrick Vineyard, both have stunning views overlooking the Hauraki Gulf and Auckland City.

Nearby is Jurassic Ridge Winery where you taste beautiful, natural wines in the shed - if you buy a bottle there make sure you cellar it for 6-9 years!

Tantalus Estate produces complex Bordeaux and Rhone-style reds, they will also age beautifully. Within walking distance, you find Stonyridge, world famous for their Bordeaux-style red wines and in particular Cabernet blends. The Stonyridge ‘Larose’ has been enjoyed by Queen Elizabeth II, the King of Spain or several prime ministers of different countries. To take you to South America try the ‘Luna Negra’ a stunning Malbec, drinking it is a bit like doing an energetic salsa!

Stonyridge winery

Hawkes Bay

Hawkes Bay is one of the biggest wine producing region in New Zealand, with currently 70+ wineries and still new ones opening. The region is best known for Merlot Cabernet blends, Syrah and Chardonnay.

Craggy Range has a breath-taking location with Te Mata Peak in the background. The soil at Gimblett Gravels produces high quality and award-winning Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet.
Te Awanga Estate grows a variety of wine styles at different locations. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir are grown more inland close to the mountains. Bridge Pa has the hottest climate and is perfect for Syrah and Viognier vines. The volcanic soil and coastal climate with sea breezes at Te Awanga is perfect to grow Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Black Barn is a great boutique vineyard and has a bistro offering stunning food and incredible wines. Most of their wine are limited release and only available at their cellar doors and bistro. The ‘Amber Wine’ is a highly sought after and rarely made wine, made of co-fermented Viognier and Pinot Gris. The Chardonnay has won the most awards. Well worth a try is the ‘Concetta’ a blend of Sangiovese and Montipulciano.

Mission Estate Winery; located in Taradale and well worth a visit for its history; this is the birthplace of New Zealand wine. In 1851 French Missionaries arrived in Hawke’s Bay and planted the first vines. Besides wine this is also a great place for outdoor concerts during the summer season.
For a more casual and relaxed tasting visit the famous ‘Straw bale’ cellar door at Beach House, a boutique, family owned winery with award winning Chardonnay and Riesling but also equally nice reds.

Learn more about our wine tours in Hawkes Bay here

Church Road Vineyard

Martinborough & Wairarapa

The Wairarapa is home to around 60 boutique wineries, most of them still family owned and operated.  This boutique wine region offers a range of styles, but their standouts are Pinot Noir, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc and some Aromatics. The free-draining soils and cool, dry climate like Burgundy is producing acclaimed wines and has the wine world excited. This is the smallest wine-producing region in New Zealand.

Ata Rangi, we highly recommend booking a tasting appointment, during the half an hour seated tasting you will experience some outstanding wines. Ata Rangi are one of the original Pinot Noir producers.

Te Kairainga is well worth a visit. Their vines are planted on land that was originally owned by the founding father of Martinborough. The tasting experience in the 130-year-old rustic cottage offers an intimate setting and is visited from people from all over the world. In case you need a change from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, you can also taste the locally produced Lighthouse Gin here.

Visit the Emporium tasting room at Tirohana Estate to taste some award-winning Pinot Noir and Chardonnay but also if you fancy some artisan produce. Plan to visit around lunch or dinner time and enjoy some delicious gourmet food at their acclaimed restaurant. Make sure you book in advance.

Pop in at Schubert Wines where you can taste some stunning organic wines with outstanding character, complexity, balance and grace. The world class Burgundian style Pinot Noir has won many awards. You will also be surprised with some different wines, such as the Tribianco, a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Müller-Thurgau.

Drummond Farm is the vineyard to visit if you want something a little bit different. Enjoy tasting some Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc by their outdoor fireplace and listen to the wine makers story. Be part of their sustainability project and buy a wine in the reusable ceramic bottle made by a well-known local ceramist.

Check out our Wairarapa Country Escape - Gin, Wine and Dine where you can get a great feel for this region.

Wine Wairarapa


Everyone knows about this region; it is the largest and most famous one with over 75% of New Zealand’s wine industry based here. More than 150 wine producers offer a great variety of wines from Pinot Noir to intense Chardonnay but also vivacious Aromatics and of course the world-renowned Sauvignon Blanc.

With so many wineries to visit it is difficult to choose just a few.  Cloudy Bay, Wither Hills, Nautilus, Villa Maria, Giesen, Wairau River, Allan Scott, Spy Valley, Saint Clair, Yealands and many more are the very well-known bigger brands and open for tastings. Most of them have eating facilities as well.

Framingham Wines has some of the oldest Riesling vines in the Wairau Valley. This small-batch winemaking company is working with limited quantities which provides them with the perfect set up to experiment. Try their F-Series limited-edition for something different, the Framingham range is more traditional and the Nobody’s Hero range is their salute to the rebels.

Te Whare Ra (TWR) is a favourite of mine, a small organic vineyard run by a young family. Besides all the white grape varieties they offer an aromatic blend called Toru (means three in Maori); Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris make the perfect Alsacian blend.

Fromm is the place to visit to impress. Founded by Swiss in the late 80s producing Syrah co-fermented with Viognier and has the oldest single vineyard Malbec in New Zealand. Wines are made from three different vineyards; each location has a slightly different soil which helps producing a great variety.

 Forest Estate Marlborough

Cycling the Marlborough wine region 

Central Otago

The Central Otago wine growing region is the most scenic and seventh largest one in New Zealand. It lies within close reach of mountainous terrain providing a unique climate perfect for Pinot Noir but also renowned for excellent Aromatics, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The six sub-regions have over 40 cellar doors open to public. Many offer accommodation and dining, but there are also some smaller vineyards.

Take the scenic drive along Lake Hayes and stop at Amisfield to taste their outstanding organic Pinot Noir. Don’t forget to but book lunch or dinner at their Bistro and experience their degustation style exploration of the season’s best local produce.

Your next stop should be Chard Farm, this vineyard is one of my favourites ever since my first visit there in 1993. Located on a spectacular terrace above the Kawarau River Gorge. Taste some of their premium Pinot Noir and head outside the tasting shed to get the ‘full picture’ of their Chardonnay.
A bit further along is Gibbston Valley Winery, a great place to stop for the night. This winery is world-renowned for their historic vineyards and handcrafted Pinot Noir. Book a place on their wine cave tour, the largest in NZ.

Not far from there is Peregrine Wines; a multi award winning winery. The elegant architecturally designed building will evoke the rotation of the falcon’s wing in flight and surely impress any visitor. Enjoy a winery tour and taste some of their outstanding Pinot Noir and an array of aromatics.
Maude is a family-owned vineyard producing hand crafted wines amidst the stunning back drop of Lake Wanaka. Their tasting room is the perfect place for wine lovers, taste Pinot Noirs, Chardonnay and Riesling.

Finish off with a visit to Quartz Reef in Bendigo. The Austrian owner makes a fantastic Single Estate Methode Traditionelle Brut besides Pinot Noir and some lovely Aromatics such as the Grüner Veltliner.

Wine Cave Gibbston Valley

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