By producing some of New Zealand’s finest Riesling and Pinot Noir paired with award winning cuisine, the Waipara Valley is struggling to keep the country’s ‘best kept secret’ hidden for much longer.
Settled in the shadows of the Teviotdale Hills of North Canterbury in the South Island, Waipara is New Zealand’s fastest growing wine region – specialising in artisanal vineyards producing hand crafted, cool climate wines wines that have become revered around the world Despite few of these travelling beyond New Zealand’s confines, their reputation for quality has attracted an influx of wine tourists to the area. There are around 75 largely boutique wineries in the relatively small region, and many are taking advantage of the booming tourist trade by accompanying wine tastings with meals served at on-site Waipara wineries restaurants.
The district’s fertile soils and sun kissed climate not only encourage vineyards to grow, but also give rise to a delectable range of fresh fare – with scores of boutique producers offering olives, cheese, eel, salmon, ostrich, lamb, beef, venison, berries, herbs, hazelnuts, honey and chocolate. For a taste of Waipara’s finest produce, the incredible Farmers’ Market held every Saturday showcases everything from handmade breads, olive oils and lavender to meats, seafood, organic vegetables and cheeses.
In fact, the Black Estate Winery has just been judged the best winery restaurant in New Zealand at the annual Cuisine Good Food awards in Auckland – taking the title from another Waipara estate, Pegasus Bay Winery, which has held it for the past nine years! ‘We are very much about 'realness'. Our wine is organic and made with low intervention. When we opened the restaurant we wanted the food to match that same philosophy; it's about local, often organic and sometimes foraged, simple but exquisite food,’ General Manager Penelope Naish told Stuff NZ.
Pairing their vineyard’s wines with locally produced organic food is a recurring theme amongst Waipara wineries restaurants since the Hurunui District that the region is a part of has been referred to as New Zealand’s pantry in the past. The district’s fertile soils and sun kissed climate not only encourage vineyards to grow, but also give rise to a delectable range of fresh fare – with scores of boutique producers offering olives, cheese, eel, salmon, ostrich, lamb, beef, venison, berries, herbs, hazelnuts, honey and chocolate. For a taste of Waipara’s finest produce, the incredible Farmers’ Market held every Saturday showcases everything from handmade breads, olive oils and lavender to meats, seafood, organic vegetables and cheeses.
With such a bountiful feast of food being produced in the region, it’s no surprise that more vineyards are catering for Waipara wineries restaurants as part of their experience. ‘The region for a long time now has been producing quality wine, this is now matched by the food. Pegasus Bay Winery led the way and now there are other exceptional wineries emerging like Black Estate and others,’ explained Shane Adcock, Hurunui Tourism marketing manager ‘They've done really well and are highlighting the quality this region has to offer,’ he added. Dining at Waipara wineries restaurants is an enviable option as it combines sampling exquisite wines paired with handpicked food pairings, which can often be enjoyed al fresco and surrounded by New Zealand’s breathtaking natural scenery.
For dedicated food enthusiasts eager to explore the region’s cuisine further, the annual Waipara Wine and Food Festival attracts thousands of visitors to a site set among the oak trees of the Glenmark Domain and has been described as ‘the coolest little wine festival in the country’.
Despite the weather trying to rain on its parade at this year’s event in March, the festival still drew 2,000 people. Festival organiser Peg Morgan told Stuff NZ: ‘A lot festivals put the focus on music or entertainment; we have tried to put our focus on quality food and wine. Adding that the intermittent rain has simply instilled a ‘hardy North Canterbury vibe’
If you are interested in exploring the region and dining at Waipara wineries restaurants, contact Wine Paths’ local expert for more information and inspirational ideas before planning an exclusive bespoke trip.
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