Exploring the Hawke’s Bay Wine RegionMarlborough Wine Tours
Visiting the Hawke’s Bay Wine Region cellar doors……
We recently had to make a quick visit to the North Island and it seemed to be an opportune time to visit the Hawkes Bay Wine region and of course some friends who recently relocated from Auckland to Napier. Of course the great thing about visitng Napier is it happens to be one of the seven wine regions of New Zealand. So we decided on a busman’s holiday to visit some of their cellar doors. We were most surprised to find that similar to Marlborough’s Wine trail
of about 32 cellars doors the Hawke’s Bay has 36 cellar doors on the Hawke’s Bay Wine Trail to visit, They are often very small family run and therefore closed over winter which is unfortuante as we were visiting in winter and mid week. The ones that do open over winter are often only open from Thursday or Friday through till Monday. So if you are visiting in the off season this is something to be aware of. But of course we didn’t let this deter us and we found there were still plenty that were open and happy to show us what the Hawke’s Bay region has to offer.
We started the day at the two wineries closest to the city – Church Road and Mission Estates. The last time I visited Mission Estates ( some years ago now) I distinctly remember it was out of town – but no longer, the city has come to the country and now these two wineries are right in the heart of the suburbs. This of course makes them very accessible to visit and so Church Road was the ideal place to start our wine tasting journey. With friends and toddler in tow we set off on a rainy day in Napier.
Church Road’s tasting room is set in a large building on beautiful grounds where in the summer many people come to enjoy a tipple with a picnic and there is often entertainment. The tasting room and restaurant is set in an open barrel hall so you can wander round through the barrels whilst enjoying your wine. Our host was very impressed that we arrived so puntually for their 10.30am opening. He was very informative and very passionate about the wines at Chruch Road.
Our Next stop was Mission Estates. This is the oldest winery in New Zealand and has its origins with the Marist Brothers and the Catholic Church. We few very impressed with the ambience of the place with it’s church touches and grandeur. Connor our host was young but very passionate about his role in showcasing the wines. The wines at the Mission were remarkabely well priced so Dean of course had to purchase a few. Of particular note was their Cabarnet Franc which Dean was most impressed by.
After a short stop for feeding the toddler it was off to the part of the region we often here about the Gimblet Gravels where many a great red wine is produced. Although the climate of Hawkes Bay is still cool being so close to the ocean there are many micro climates that do allow the production of the full bodied Red wines and this is where the the terroir in the Gimblet Gravels lends to enhancing the ability to grow in this region.
Our first stop was to Sileni Estate . The long driveway into the entrace provides a lovely photo opportunity and on arriving Anne our host was highly enthusiastic and pleased to have some guests on what turned out to be an unusually cold Napier day. Whilst here we were also able to meet Greg one of the local Wine Tour Operators in the region and compare notes, which is always nice to see how others are doing business. Anne was a fabulous wine host and very enthusiatic about helping tourists have a great time in NZ. She even has her own tourist map that she has developed over the years and hands out to those that are interested.
Our last stop of the day right on closing time was Trinity Hill. We arrived right on closing but Hannah was very obliging and allowed us to have a tasting. They had a range of wines available but the Port particuarly was to Dean’s liking – thing that is the sailor coming out in him.
Overall we thought we had a great little taster of what the Napier Wine Region has to offer, but of course the Marlborough Wine Region still is the premiere wine region of New Zealand and hard to beat for variety of wines on offer.