Love Wine? You Can Now Travel To Some Of New Zealand’s Most Prominent Wine Counties
New Zealand’s burgeoning wine regions are only about 200 years old, yet they are among some of the most successful in the world. With over 700 wineries and 600 grape growers scattered all over the country, New Zealand has become famous: for packing Oceanic sunshine into magnum bottles, growing plump grapes through acres of neatly combed vineyards, and for overturning and liquefying these fruits into ambrosia (to be poured into expectant flute glasses all over the world).
For sommeliers and wine aficionados, a tour around New Zealand wine counties make a fantastic holiday. Bask in the late golden sunshine and sip on a sauvignon blanc in the upcoming autumnal months of March through June. Discover the complex process of what it takes to get from vine to wine on your next vacation.
1/4 Waiheke Island
Known as the “Island of Wine”, Waiheke Island is a mere 40-minute ferry ride from Auckland’s central business district. It boasts of 216 hectares of vineyards and 30 wineries against a backdrop of turquoise seas and emerald mountains. The region is most popular for cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec, and chardonnay grape varieties, whose flavours are enhanced by a healthy sea breeze and rich, stony soil. Watch out for the Waiheke Wine & Food Festival in early April for delicious reds alongside local fare.
2/4 Matakana and Warkworth
Matakana and Warkworth are homey, little towns located an hour north from Auckland. Normally sleepy and slow-paced, these neighbouring cities come to life every Saturday morning as Aucklanders descend onto their famous farmers’ markets. Local winemakers and bakers share some of their bestselling stock including a local fruit called feijoa, which some describe as tasting like a melange of pineapples, strawberries, and guava. Market regulars are also known to queue for Lothlorien Wines, a local winery that produces feijoa wine.
3/4 Kumeu River Wines
On the outskirts of Auckland lies the Kumeu River Winery run by the Brajkovich family. Encompassing 30 hectares of vineyards, the Kumeu River Winery is also one of New Zealand’s oldest. Its proximity to the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean, along with the climate and naturally occurring soil, allow their grapes to acquire a delicious aroma upon ripening. Harvested by hand, the grapes at Kumeu River Winery are known to produce the best chardonnay in the area.
(Related: A Food Lover's Guide To Wellington, New Zealand)
4/4 Villa Maria Estate
The Villa Maria Estate is one of the three largest wineries in New Zealand and sits nearby the Ihumatao volcano. A quick five-minute drive from the airport, the Villa Maria Estate is also the perfect place to catch a glimpse of the rolling countryside of New Zealand while sipping on a glass of sauvignon blanc.