The New Zealand wine industry is relatively new. Astonishingly it’s only been in the wine business for a mere 200 years. But wineries in New Zealand have already gained international recognition and is a fast-growing industry for the country.
Its success is said to be thanks to its sauvignon blanc varietal. Nowadays, New Zealand’s pinot noir industry is fast-growing, especially from the Central Otago wine growing region of the country.
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Overview of Wineries in New Zealand
How does New Zealand produce great tasting wine? Its climate.
New Zealand wineries benefit from cooler temperatures (but not too cool) for the majority of the year, which provide a long period for ripening. This long period allows for a rich flavour to develop.
The geography of the country also comes into play producing new world wine. The west coast of the country, especially the South Island, is covered in mountains. The mountain peaks shelter the East Coast from rain.
In fact, the geography is similar to the Canadian Rockies.
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In total, there are 11 wine regions across the country. Being such a small country, 11 regions seems like such a huge feat.
The Marlborough region, located at the top of the South Island, is responsible for ¾ of New Zealand’s annual harvest.
The following includes the wine regions of the North Island:
- Bay of Plenty
- Hawke’s Bay
These are the wine regions of the South Island:
- Central Otago
- Waipara Valley
Sauvignon blanc makes up almost 70% of the wine produced in New Zealand. This is followed by chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot gris respectively.
Having won the hearts, or the tastebuds of the world, many visitors want to sample the country’s best when on a trip to New Zealand.
With hundreds of wineries in the country, choosing the best of the best to visit can be made difficult.
North Island Vineyards in New Zealand
Millton Vineyards & Winery
Millton is another great Gisborne winery in New Zealand. The drive is just shy of 15 minutes from the main township or airport.
Millton comprises of four different vineyards in the Gisborne region. Almost four decades of wine production makes them one of the oldest vineyards in New Zealand.
The great thing about Millton is they do not use any insecticides, herbicides and soluble fertilizers. You can assure the wines are organic and as pure as they should be.
The Cellar Door is located in its barrel room. The wooden interiors and oaky smells give such a cosy feel to the place.
Tastings are only $5 NZD per person for five wines. This amazing value is well worth it. My absolute favourite is their gewürztraminer, it has such a unique taste so it should not be missed!
Millton Vineyards & Winery has branched out to produce their own organic grape juice.Amrita is made from muscat grapes, giving it a cloudy appearance. The grapes are handpicked and squeezed on a single day of the year!
The refreshing taste makes them perfect in summer. You can also use them as a mixer in your favourite cocktail.
Amrita costs $14 NZD for a 1L bottle or $84 NZD for a case of six bottles. You can even have them shipped right to you.
Millton Vineyards & Winery
4053/119 Papatu Road, Manutuke, New Zealand
Undoubtedly one of the best wineries in New Zealand, the wines at Matawhero have collectively won 46 awards. It is an impressive collection of various trophies, gold medals and five star designations.
Matawhero relies on dry farming, using the environment to its full potential. This form of farming helps to preserve our precious freshwater.
This New Zealand winery is on the east coast of the North Island. It will take you just over 10 minutes to drive there from the main town, or similar travel time from the airport.
Visitors to Gisborne usually take a flight from Auckland. However, the drive isn’t too lengthy at 6-7 hours. Turn your trip to the Gisborne wineries into a road trip. Stop at Rotorua, Hobbiton and Waitomo Caves along the way.
The wooden outdoor seating is a great place to relax and enjoy your wines. They even have live music on Sundays, making it the best day to pay a visit. Outside you’ll find vast green pastures with trees dotted around. Serenity fills the atmosphere.
Keep an eye on their website for events held at Matawhero. As well as food and wine events, they occasionally have interesting workshops available such as sketching workshops.
We’d recommend the tasting flight of five wines. They have a selection of Z and chardonnay.
The tasting flight is a great deal at $15 – that’s $3 per tasting! Plus, you’ll get $5 off a purchase, so you choose to take home a bottle or two of your favourite varietal.
RD1/189 Riverpoint Road, Gisborne, New Zealand
Red wine enthusiasts, this one’s for you. Stonyridge Vineyard on Waiheke Island in Auckland specializes in red wines. Even Lonely Planet mentioned Stonyridge wines are “rated among the very best on the planet”.
Stonyridge has been producing wines for 25 years. You’ll be greeted by a charming cottage covered in leafy vines. The 25 acres of vineyard stretch out to produce a nice view.
No bookings required for tastings, just walk on in. The yoga deck is located next to the tasting room.
Yes, you read that right! With a view so beautiful, it’s a great spot for yoga. At nighttime, the yoga deck transforms into a dance area.
There are plenty of neighbouring wineries to pay a visit to afterwards if you’re game.
Many people who visit Waiheke actually go on winery bus tours. These can be booked online. Alternatively, if you have a sober driver sorted, you can take your car over via Sealink. However, this is quite pricey. The bus or a tour definitely makes for a more interesting experience
Getting there is simple. Waiheke Island is well, an island. Most people would take the Fullers Ferry from the downtown ferry terminal in Auckland City.
The journey will take 40 minutes. From there, take the 50A bus to Onetangi which should take less than 20 minutes. The bus stop for Stonyridge is only a few minutes walk.
80 Onetangi Road.
Mudbrick Restaurant & Vineyard
Mudbrick Restaurant & Vineyard rightfully earns its place as one of the best wineries in New Zealand. It’s an incredibly popular spot for weddings. It features 360-degree views of the harbour, gulf and the surrounding islands.
Book private vineyard tours for larger groups of over ten people. In fact, Aucklanders frequently flock over with large groups of friends during the weekends to enjoy some wine in the sun. With the tour, you’ll get a tour of the vineyard, plus you’ll get to sample three of their wines.
The tours cost $15 NZD per person.
If you haven’t booked a tour, or have come in a group smaller than 10 individuals, don’t worry. I
Instead, go for wine tasting at the Cellar Door. You’ll get to try four different varietals. Choose between their standard or premium tastings for $11 NZD or $15 NZD respectively.
An insider tip is to go around sunset. The position of the winery is perfect to watch the sunset.
Wine tastings end around 6 pm in summer, which is too early for sunset. However, consider going for a tasting at 5:30 pm, then buying a glass of your favourite wine on the deck and watching the sunset.
Or even better, have dinner at The Archive Bar & Bistro or the flagship Mudbrick Restaurant.
Getting there by public transport is a little more difficult compared to Stonyridge. You’ll still take the ferry over to Waiheke Island, but the bus stop is a 30-minute walk to the vineyard. If you’re up for it, take either the 50A or the 502 from the ferry terminal.
Otherwise, most people choose to take a taxi (which are limited on the island), take their car over, or organize for a tour.
126 Church Bay Road, Waiheke Island, New Zealand
South Island New Zealand Vineyards
One of the best wineries in New Zealand, the view of Rippon Winery alone will win you over. If you’ve ever seen pictures (or visited) the South Island of New Zealand, you’ll agree it looks like something out of a postcard.
If the view of the vineyards weren’t enough, Rippon Winery is paired with a view. Snowcapped peaks backdrop the scene, and the winery itself is surrounded by the azure waters of Lake Wanaka.
And of course, the tasting room perfectly showcases this view with huge glass windows and French doors to lead to outdoor seating. Tastings are free, but they do recommend a donation to charity or purchase of a bottle of wine.
Texas Hill Wine Country
Another great thing about Rippon is the staff. They’re incredibly knowledgeable about their wines, the history of the vineyard and the region.
Tastings start with stories about the history of the winery, including information regarding the family who started this amazing business. You’ll get to try around six wines in total. Look out for their Pinot Noir, the winery’s speciality.
Wanaka is an up-and-coming holiday destination. It’s only a one-hour drive from Queenstown, New Zealand, the adventure capital of the country.
When travelling to New Zealand, it’s likely you’ll be making a visit to Queenstown. While there, why not visit Wanaka. It’s close enough for a day trip or alternatively, stay there for a night or two. The vineyard is only four minutes from the township.
246 Wanaka-Mount Aspiring Road, Wanaka 9381, New Zealand
Chard Farm Winery
My favourite winery in New Zealand, I have a lot of positive things to say about this place.
With a backdrop of gigantic mountains, the light pink, modernized building leads to the tasting room. The architecture reminds me of buildings you may see in Italy.
In the spring and the summer, the red and pink flowers in front of the winery complement the colour of the building perfectly.
Located in the Gibbston Valley, this charming, little winery is hidden down a long driveway. Entering the winery gives a feeling similar to entering a secret garden.
The drive, I’ll admit, is treacherous. Braving the drive is a must to reach, the most unique-looking vineyard in Queenstown.
As you drive through Gibbston Valley, you’ll find a small, uphill road made of gravel. The narrow road is just wide enough to fit two cars. Stay to the left when driving towards the winery. Those leaving the vineyard will need as much space from the cliff edge as possible!
The long driveway may actually work in your favour. It’s too steep for cyclists going wine-hopping on a tour. So the only way to get there easily (without a steep cycle or trek) is by car.
In summer especially, wineries can become quite packed. Chard Farm Winery has a constant flow of avid wine tasters. But luckily, it never seems to be completely packed to the point it becomes uncomfortable and sets back your experience.
The staff are lovely and genuine. They know what they’re talking about when it comes to good, Queenstown wine and they’re passionate about their work.
Tastings are free, but a donation to charity is recommended if you choose against making a purchase.
Chard Farm Winery is only 25 minutes back to the main town where you can enjoy some of the best food in Queenstown.
Chard Farm Winery
205 Chard Road RD 1, Gibbston, New Zealand
Amisfield Winery in New Zealand is a great place to start your love affair with the country’s wines. The staff here really know their wines and the fruity wines are exquisite.
You don’t get the classic widespread views of mountain peaks, lakes and vast farmland as far as the eye can see. However, the outdoor courtyard area is a great place to relax and kick back with a glass of wine and good company.
Be sure to take a walk around the vineyards before you leave.
Come on an empty stomach and opt for the popular ‘Trust the Chef’ degustation menu at the Cellar Door. This includes either a three to five-course lunch with matching wines or a nine-course dinner with matching wines.
Wine tastings cost $10 per person. From memory, this includes decent pours of five or so wines.
Like many other wineries, this fee is waived if you purchase a bottle. My favourite is the pinot gris and pinot noir.
The winery is located close by Lake Hayes and around 14 minutes from Queenstown town or six minutes from Arrowtown.. Amisfield is close to other Lake Hayes wineries, so it’s worth visiting a few wineries in one go.
10 Arrowtown-Lake Hayes Road, Frankton, Queenstown 9371, New Zealand
Yet another one of the best wineries in New Zealand is located in the Gibbston Valley! Peregrine Wines has been operating for over 20 years now with three vineyards around the Central Otago wine producing region.
This winery is one of New Zealand’s wineries that employ organic practices.
Peregrine uses an integration of crop and livestock farming in their practices. Goats first herd to land, getting the grounds ready before planting.
Cattle graze off seasonal crops when the vineyard is still under the development process. And manure is used in their composts to provide their vines with the nutrients they need to produce their spectacular wines.
The vineyards are stunning – surrounded by lakes and mountain peaks.
After you’ve admired the outdoors of the winery, make your way to the wine tastings. You’ll be amazed when you step inside the tasting room. The triangular shape of the building has been architecturally-designed to resemble the wing of a falcon. Tastings are free of charge.
2127 Gibbston Highway, RD1, Queenstown 9371, New Zealand
This is one of the most famous and awarded wineries in New Zealand.
Villa Maria has a vineyard and winery also located in Marlborough, the largest producing wine region in the country. The main location is in the south of Auckland and is popular for hosting both wedding ceremonies and receptions. The site can seat up to 500 seated guests in its marquee!
Pay just $10 NZD for five New Zealand wines, or opt for their premium tasting at $15 NZD for five wines.
I’d highly recommend adding on the tour on top of your tasting. Tours depart at 11 am and 2 pm daily and cost only $5 NZD per person. They are incredibly informative. You will see the huge vats used in the wine-making process.
If a tour isn’t your thing, maybe you’ll be intrigued by a walking trail. The Vineyard Walking Trail is a comfortable 2 km in length. Trail markers will lead you around to the main points of interest around the park.
Then, stop over at the Vineyard cafe for lunch overlooking the vineyard.
Villa Maria is 25 mins from the city centre or just 7 minutes from Auckland Airport. The address is 118 Montgomerie Road, Mangere. It’ll be super convenient to make your way there on the way to or from the airport.
Villa Maria Marlborough Winery
New Renwick Road, Fairhall 7201, New Zealand
Akarua is another household name in New Zealand. This Central Otago winery is so large, they have five sizeable vineyards totalling over 100 hectares:
- Cairnmuir Road Vineyard (48 hectares): pinot noir, chardonnay, pinot gris and riesling
- Kawarau Vineyard (28 hectares): chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and pinot noir
- Felton Road Vineyard (21 hectares): pinot noir, pinot gris and riesling
- Lowburn Vineyard (14 hectares): pinot noir
- 25 Steps Vineyard (9 hectares): pinot noir
All five of their vineyards grow grapes specifically for pinot noir, what Akarua is widely-known for.
Tastings are free of charge!
Their cellar door is located a bit further out of Queenstown at Kawarau Gorge. This is about 50 minutes from Queenstown past the Gibbston Valley and Arrowtown.
210, Cairnmuir Road, Bannockburn, Central Otago 9384, New Zealand
Gibbston Valley Winery
Gibbston Valley Winery boasts New Zealand’s largest wine cave.
If you’re lucky, you may be able to see the winemakers doing what they do best. The cave tour is a little pricier than other wineries, at $19.50 NZD person, or $35 NZD for a winery and cave tour. The former includes three wine tastings, and the latter, four.
There’s a restaurant available featuring the finest of cuisines. Bear in mind the restaurant is only open from 12 pm – 3 pm, so time your visit around this if you’d like to great some delectable food to pair with your wine.
Their innovative ideas even include a cheesery which goes so well with their wines.
Other packages are available, including return transport from Queenstown, lunch with wine, and the option of a prestige wine tour for two people or more.
To make things even better, Gibbston Valley Winery has recently (December 2019) opened a luxury lodge and spa to stay at, during your next trip to Queenstown. For wine lovers, this could make for an unforgettable experience.
The winery is located around 20 minutes from Queenstown at 1820 State Highway 6, Gibbston, and is even closer to Arrowtown, a popular stopover.
You hear of people doing bike wine tours as the Gibbston River Trail is a popular cycling trail in the region. I, however, would not recommend mixing alcohol and cycling.
After seeing a few avid cyclists stumbling down the road, it definitely does not look like a safe choice. Ditch the bike and take a tour or a sober driver with you instead!
Gibbston Valley Winery
1820 State Highway 6, Gibbston 9371, New Zealand
Also located in the Gibbston Valley in Central Otago Brennan estate only uses grapes from its family vineyards and wine is made on site. This is very different from larger wineries in New Zealand who don’t always grow their own grapes but may source from grape growers.
The winery uses 80% of its land to grow pinot noir, covering about eight hectares. Brennan Wines also has an additional hectare for pinot gris, and an additional half hectare for gewürztraminer.
Its Cellar Door charge is $15 to taste all their wines open on a given day.
This typically includes three heavy pours to seven lighter pours of wine. The intimate tasting room has a fireplace, adding to the cosy ambience. Hearing how passionate the owners are about their vineyard is inspiring.
86 Gibbston Back Road, Gibbston 9371, New Zealand
What wineries in New Zealand would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!
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