New Zealand’s vineyards stretch along the length of the country, which makes touring the fine wineries of this island nation an easy, relaxing trip. Regardless of where you are, there’s sure to be a tasting room not far away. From grand modern wineries to historic traditional cellars, the best vineyards to visit are varied and exotic.
We’ve put together a list of some of the top wine tasting wineries that New Zealand has to offer, presented here in no particular order.
- Marlborough: located at the top of the South Island, Marlborough is the largest and most well-known region in New Zealand. It produces nearly half of the country’s crop. Marlborough is known for its fine sauvignon blancs, unique Rieslings and pinot noirs.
- Herzog. The Herzog family produces a varied range of wines, using their organically managed vineyard. The tasting area in the estate inspires you to while away a lazy sunny afternoon exploring what the wine cellar has to offer. There’s a bistro lunch offered in the tasting room or you can have a fabulous meal in the nationally-recognized adjoining restaurant (reservations need to be made well in advance).
- Highfield Estate. Sitting high on the Brookby Ridge, Highfield Estate offers amazing views over the Wairau plain and extending all to the way to the North Island. They offer a wide range of wines, from sauvignon blanc to a sparkling Elstree Cuvée Brut. They have a highly popular indoor-outdoor restaurant, and offer a brunch menu in summer.
- Hawke’s Bay: Found on the east coast of the North Island, this is the second largest region in New Zealand. It is considered by many to be New Zealand’s premiere food and wine destination. It is known worldwide for its chardonnays, cabernet sauvignons, syrahs and merlots.
- Craggy Range Winery. This vineyard produces its wines by a small lake, in the shadow of the Te Mata Peak. Their wine tasting rooms are found at their cellar. After a tour of the facility, you can enjoy a meal at the Terroir restaurant while gazing out across the lake.
- Mission Estate Winery. This is a classic winery found in the Taradale hills overlooking Napier. It is New Zealand’s oldest winery, first producing its fine wines in 1851. You can taste and purchase wines at the cellar door. Tours are offered through the underground cellars and include a discussion of the mission’s history. There’s a gallery that showcases local handmade pottery and crafts.
- Auckland: Known for its rich, Bordeaux style reds, Auckland is home to about 100 vineyards and wineries.
- Villa Maria Winery. This winery started as a small family business and has blossomed into one of the country’s biggest producers. They produce a wide range of wines using different grapes. The tasting room here offers selections from most of the vineyards. Wine production isn’t all that Villa Maria has going on, however. It also hosts popular outdoor concerts in summer, with selections ranging from jazz to classical music.
- Artisan Wines. Open daily, this producer of high-quality wines uses grapes from all around New Zealand. Saturday is a special day here because there’s a local farmers market. You can taste a range of Artisan wines along with local, organically grown produce. There’s also a restaurant on-site.
These are only some of the fabulous vineyards and wineries dotting the landscape of New Zealand. If you’re planning a visit, be sure to grab a local directory for the locations of tasting rooms in the area you’re exploring. (And if you still have time for more travel, don’t miss Australia’s Outback.)