When you imagine your ideal, relaxing getaway – what comes to mind? Is it idyllic, rolling green vistas? Walking though sun-kissed vineyards heavy with ripe grapes? Kicking your feet up with only the sound of the birds and rippling water to keep you company?
How about copious amounts of some of the best wine on the planet?
Waiheke Island, also known as the “Island of Wine”, is going to be your next favorite vacation destination.
We’ll walk you through this veritable adult Disney World and show you the best glasses of wine from Waiheke Island wineries and vineyards. Spend a day or a weekend tasting the best wine this region offers – including the most expensive red in New Zealand.
Waiheke Island Wineries
Owhanake Bay Estate – This winery is located right on the edge of secluded Owhanake Bay. Idyllic rows of grape vines line the grounds of this more than 8-acre estate. The vineyard also grows organic olives, fruit and other produce that they use in their amazing food menu. Just a short stroll down to the Bay and you can enjoy your glass of wine right on the beach.
Try: ‘Anchorage’ Syrah 2013; Gold medal award-winning red
Cable Bay Vineyards – These are the views that dreams are made of. Serene, lush vistas bob along the Cable Bay grounds. You’ll enjoy the hip, modern wine-bar aesthetic, the wide open-air patio and pristine lawn dotted with picnicking couples and friends. Sit on the lawn with a glass of Cable Bay’s amazing wines and charcuterie.
Try: 2016 Waiheke Island Rosé; Locally grown, Rosé all day
Mudbrick Restaurant and Vineyard – Although this list is all about the wine, it’s impossible not to mention the food at Mudbrick. Executive chef Matthias Schmitt has worked for some of the greatest Michelin-starred restaurants in the world. He brings his expertise to Mudbrick creating dishes using fresh, local ingredients to pair with their award-winning wines. Grab a spot overlooking the lavender and rosemary fields and enjoy the sweet scent as you taste the vineyard’s best.
Try: Mudbrick Velvet 2015; 98/100 by renowned wine critic Sam Kim
Hay Paddock Vineyard – Short on frills, long on exceptionally flavored wine. Hay Paddock forgoes the high-profile chefs and high price tags that come along with visiting an amenity laden wine bar. Hay Paddock specializes solely in wine. Owners Chris Canning and Jules Silk, a novelist and painter respectively, put their passion for the arts in to every bottle they craft.
Try: Harvest Reserve Syrah 2012; Winning international favor when released, this wine showcases the ideal Waiheke Island climate that produces such amazing Syrahs.
Te Whau Vineyard and Restaurant – For more than 20 years Te Whau has been a premier vineyard and destination on Waiheke Island. It still retains the small, boutique family vineyard feel from their humble beginnings while still becoming one of the most renowned vineyards in the region. Te Whau produces ‘Bordeaux-style’ reds, a style found over much of Waiheke Island.
Try: ‘The Point’ Boreaux-style Blend 2013; The flagship wine of Te Whau, nationally rated and award-winning.
Wild on Waiheke Estate Vineyard – Have you ever been drinking a glass of wine and thought to yourself, “I’d really like to shoot a bow and arrow right now”? Then Wild on Waiheke is the place for you. A family oriented vineyard and craft beer brewery, Wild on Waiheke is a quirky destination offering great wine and craft beer along with fun activities for the family or group outings. Try the life size chess board, archery, laser clay-pigeon shooting and more. Keep the kids occupied while you taste amazing wines or join in yourself.
Try: Sauvignon Blanc 2016; Self-described as “nothing too fancy”, these simple, honest wines are sometimes all you need on a hot day out on Waiheke.
Jurassic Ridge – A family owned vineyard run by true wine lovers. Lance Blumhardt, a former neurosurgeon, and his wife, a current neurosurgeon opened Jurassic Ridge purely for the love of exceptional wine. The vineyard is named Jurassic Ridge due to the geology under foot. Rock formations more than 155 million years old form an ancient mountain ridge where the vineyards were planted. Making wine may not be brain surgery, but Blumhardt and his wife bring that same attention to detail to crafting amazing, aged wines.
Try: Jurassic Ridge Montepulciano 2009; Blumhardt was the first to introduce Montepulciano grapes to Waiheke Island. Nearly two dozen other wineries have since adopted the variety for their wines.
Tantalus Estate – In the heart of the Onetangi Valley sits the 20-acre estate of Tantalus. Arguably the top destination in Waiheke Island, Onetangi Valley has several top wineries all within walking distance. The pristine grounds of the estate are covered in amazing plant life and greenery in attention to the acres of vineyard. Special attention has been paid to sustainability in the production of Tantalus’ wines. The entire vineyard is pesticide-free. Wildflowers and other plants are grown with the grape vines to increase biodiversity. This allows beneficial insects that control pests to thrive.
Try: Évoque Reserve 2014; 10-year vintage that received a score of 96/100.
Stonyridge Vineyard – One of the first wineries on Waiheke Island, Stonyridge Vineyard is partly responsible for the New Zealand wine boom. Stonyridge produces some the top-rated wines not only in New Zealand, but worldwide. The picturesque vineyard is located at the same latitude as the southern tip of Sicily, another world class wine region. Stonyridge is settled behind a ridge that blocks cold southwesterly winds. This gives Stonyridge’s Cabernet’s a real chance to shine and thrive. Stonyridge currently holds the title for producing one of New Zealand’s most expensive reds. At $250 a bottle, the Larose Cabarnet Blend is pricy, but when it comes with this many accolades, it’s sure to please.
Try: Stonyridge Larose 2015; 94+ point-awarded world-class Cabarnet.
Te Motu Wine – Picky wine for picky palates. Using only prime specimen, fully ripe fruit, the wine at Te Motu Vineyard is pored over with the finest-toothed comb. Each step of the process is meticulously crafted to produce the same perfection for every bottle, every time. Te Motu produces only 4500 bottles of each vintage so that each small batch has the same attention to detail as the last. Stunning views of Onetangi Valley are reminiscent of the French countryside, while remaining distinctly Kiwi.
Try: Cabarnet-Sauvignon 2013; Te Motu’s flagship wine.
Obsidian Vineyard – So named for it’s almost pure rock soil, Obsidian may as well be called the “little vineyard that could”. Growing wine grapes in conditions like Obsidian’s is difficult. The Knight’s Valley region is warm, almost too warm. The rocky-soil drains very fast, almost too fast. The fruit takes a long time to ripen and drop, almost too long. But, the wine that eventually is produced from the struggle has a subtle complexity that is hard to find in other wines.
Try: Obsidian Syrah 2015; Described by vineyard owners as “if black had a smell, this would be it… The wine is dark and mysterious with tremendous intensity and tannin.”
Peacock Sky Vineyard – A true family-owned affair run by a wine enthusiast husband and wife team. Peacock Sky has produced world class wines since 2008. The alfresco patio offers idyllic views of the vineyard. Enjoy a Mediterranean-inspired menu paired perfectly with the wines of the season.
Try: Pure Malbec 2014; 4-star single varietal.
Batch Winery – Take a tour of this craft vineyard and winery for a look at the winemaking process from start to finish. You’ll peruse rows upon rows of ripe grape vines. See the harvesting and fermenting process up close. You’ll even get a chance to see the actual bottling and corking process in the bottling room. Not to mention, the views outside are some of the most picturesque on the Island. “Bach” (pronounced “batch”) in New Zealand means a simple holiday home where families congregate, relax and bond. A concept synonymous with Batch Winery.
Try: Thomas’ Batch Pinot Noir 2016; A fruity Pinot with hints of strawberries and cream, raspberry licorice and juicy red summer berries.
Destiny Bay Vineyards – There is a lot more to Destiny Bay then just impeccable attention to detail for their award-winning wines. Special attention was also given to the structure and layout of the winery itself. Utilizing the latest in energy efficient structures and winemaking practices, the vineyard is a model for sustainable practices. More than 500 native trees were planted around the vineyard to increase biodiversity and ultimately reduce the carbon footprint of the site.
Try: Destiny Bay Mystae 2013; A blend of all 5 varietals for a unique bouquet of fruit taste.
Casita Miro Restaurant and Vineyard – Inspired by the food and wine of Spain and the Mediterranean, Casita Miro specializes in shared plate tapas-style service and amazing wine. The world-renowned restaurant has stunning views overlooking the vineyard below. No detail was lost in the Spanish architecture inspired building. The ambiance provided by this fine dining and wine experience is unmatched.
Try: Madame Rouge 2016; French-inspired Cabarnet-Sauvignon.
Man O’ War Vineyards – This vineyard is secluded away from the “wine belt” of the Onetangi Valley on Man O’ War Bay. The drive out to this vineyard is surely rewarded with the views you have that overlook the water. Sip a glass or three of any vintage (trust us, they’re all amazing) and soak in that Bay view.
Take your wine straight down to the water’s edge and relax on the lawn or walk along the rocky beach. Watch yachts and sailboats drifting lazily in front of you. The ambiance here is nothing less than serene.
Try: Man O’ War Pinot Gris 2008; A Waiheke staple.
Passage Rock Wines & Bistro – You’ll feel like you’re amongst old friends in this intimate vineyard venue and restaurant. The unassuming, small estate produces a Syrah that is the most awarded in all of Waiheke. An outdoor dining area that is directly adjacent to the vineyards make dining at this classic bistro an event you’ll never forget.
Try: Passage Rock Reserve Syrah 2015; Continuing the tradition of their multiple 5-star awarded wines.
Kennedy Point Vineyard – Waiheke Island’s only certified organic vineyard. Grapes are grown to organic standard without chemical fertilizers, sprays or pesticides. Olive groves are grown to the same standard, for production of truly organic New Zealand olive oil.
Try: Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015; Organic grown, supreme taste.
Poderi Crisci Vineyard and Restaurant – Inspired in wine and design by Mediterranean vineyards, this winery is a small slice of Italy in New Zealand. You’ll love the Italian inspired villa that offers great wine and a fine dining menu of seasonal dishes. Figs, olives, greens and herbs are also grown on the estate and used in the menu.
Try: Poderi Crisci Chardonnay 2012; An inspired Burgundy-inspired white.
Waiheke Island is a mecca for the wine enthusiast. The Napa Valley of New Zealand has produced some serious wines that have won some serious awards. Try a tour of Waiheke Island and taste your way through the Island of Wine.
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