Here’s something we bet you didn’t know: New Zealand’s City of Sails is surrounded by some of the country's most interesting cellar door experiences. Add these wineries around Auckland to your must-visit list.
1. Villa Maria, Mangere
There are two good reasons to make Villa Maria the first stop on any wine-tasting tour. The first is convenience: it is just five minutes from Auckland Airport. The second is its reputation.
Villa Maria styles itself as New Zealand’s most awarded winery, and was named one of the world’s 50 Great Wine Producers by the prestigious Wine Spectator magazine. Join one of the twice-daily tours to get some insight into the wine making process.
Try this: The acclaimed Ihumato Single Vineyard chardonnay is known for its fruity, spicy notes.
2. Brick Bay Wines, Warkworth
The elegant wines and the glass tasting room are only part of the attraction here: just as many visitors are drawn by the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail, where dozens of contemporary sculptures have been placed amid landscapes of towering native trees and bucolic farmlands.
Try this: Creamy, floral and fruity, the Brick Bay Pinot Gris is a refreshing drink for summer.
3. Heron's Flight, Warkworth
The good folk of Matakana are known for doing things their way, and David Hoskins and Mary Evans of Heron’s Flight are no exception. They have adopted an organic approach for their winery, which grows Italian varietals sangiovese and dolcetto – the only Kiwi vineyard specialising in these distinctive wines.
The couple also turns their hands to other projects, producing a tasty non-alcoholic grape juice and a verjus made with sangiovese.
Try this: With a dark colour and intense fruit flavours, the Heron’s Flight Sangiovese is an immensely drinkable red wine.
4. Takatu Lodge & Vineyard, Auckland
This small winery punches well above its weight, with its elegant wines featured at many of New Zealand’s most acclaimed luxury lodges.
Perhaps that is what inspired the Takatu team to try their hand at accommodation. A stay in one of the chic suites overlooking the vineyard – fitted out with super-king size beds and double baths – is the perfect way to relax after a busy day wine tasting.
Try this: Takatu’s Merlot Franc Cabernet is a trip to the dark side, with flavours of dark berries, black plums and rich chocolate.
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5. Man O’ War Vineyards, Waiheke Island
Just half an hour by boat from Auckland, Waiheke Island feels a world away from the big smoke. Man O’War, tucked onto the far end of the island at the end of a dirt road, is worth the hike.
Settle in for the afternoon at this beachside winery, where youngsters frolic on the sand or play cricket on the lawn while their parents work their way through the winery’s acclaimed offerings.
Try this: The Man O’War Bellepheron Syrah Viognier is a rich, spicy red with strong flavours of red fruit.
6. Stonyridge Vineyard, Auckland
The wines may echo the best of Bordeaux, but there is a definite touch of Tuscany in the air at Stonyridge, where the rows of vines have been joined by olive trees and lavender fields.
Sit on the restaurant’s deck, crack open a bottle, order up a platter or two, and it is hard to think of anywhere else you would rather be. Keep an eye out for Morris, the friendly vineyard cat.
Try this: Stonyridge’s premium cabernet blend, Larose, is perhaps New Zealand’s most expensive red, but many say it’s worth every cent.
7. Kumeu River Winery, Kumeu
Like many of New Zealand’s best wineries, Kumeu River was founded by immigrants, the Brajkovich family who brought their wine-making skills with them from Croatia.
The winery, part of the West Auckland wine region, an easy 25 minute drive from town, has built a reputation for its fine chardonnays, which have scored well in blind tastings against Burgundy’s best chardonnays.
Try this: The Maté's Vineyard Chardonnay is one of Kumeu River’s flagship wines.
8. West Brook Winery, Waimauku
The Ivicevich family has been making wine here for four generations, and the experience shows, with West Brook’s hand-crafted wines chalking up plenty of awards.
The West Auckland winery has a charming picnic area overlooking a duck pond, which makes this a great stop if you have children in tow. The picnic area has gas barbecues, but the easiest option is to order one of the winery’s cheese platters.
Try this: If you like rich pinot noirs with notes of berry and liquorice, grab a bottle of the West Brook Waimauku Pinot Noir.