Hawkes Bay has been producing quality wines long before New Zealand took its place at the international wine table, and the legacy of the first vineyards planted in 1851 lives on with many of the finest wines to come from the country.
As New Zealand’s second largest wine growing region that’s responsible for 10% of the country’s entire production, Hawkes Bay has garnered a reputation for its highly acclaimed red Bordeaux style blends and distinctive Chardonnay from the many varieties grown here. And, with a gloriously sun kissed climate and a well-established wine trail that also showcases the region’s idyllic art deco architecture and artisan producers, wine tasting in Hawkes Bay has become a popular pastime for visitors to New Zealand’s North Island.
At Wine Paths, our local expert can organise the most exclusive wine tasting Hawkes Bay has to offer, including elaborate vineyard visits, luxury accommodation, fine dining experiences and some unique activities. Settled in a semi-circular bay that ascends into hills from the coastline is scattered with charming towns such as Hastings and Napier, which were rebuilt following an earthquake in 1931 using the prevalent art deco and Spanish mission styles to create an idyllic setting for wine tastings.
The region is home to around 72 wineries, including award winning estates such as Sileni, Church Road and the Mission Estate – which claims to be the birthplace of New Zealand’s first vines by Marist missionaries in 1851. Most wineries, however, are small family-owned boutiques that offer an informal wine tasting in Hawkes Bay experience.
All of our private tours can be tailor-made to meet your precise requirements, ensuring every detail is taken care of so that you can relax and enjoy the matter at hand – sampling incredible wines while surrounded by stunning natural beauty. The ideal time to enjoy a wine tasting in Hawkes Bay is either between January and February, when the annual wine and art deco festivals take place, or from late March to May during harvest time.
Unlike France, wine growing in New Zealand is not controlled by appellation so different varieties can be grown across the country’s regions and sub-regions. Most vineyards offering wine tasting in Hawkes Bay are concentrated around the main towns of Hastings, Napier – with Gimblett Gravels and the Ngatarawa Triangle two of the most famous sub regions.
Gimblett Gravels, in particular, is renowned for its red wines courtesy of a unique shingle terroir that has made the area the most expensive wine estate in New Zealand.
Wine tasting in Hawkes Bay will introduce you to some sensational Bordeaux style blends, using an increasing percentage of Merlot to create elegant, deep plum flavours, and signature full bodied Chardonnay with excellent fruit intensity. Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir are among a wide range of other grapes grown in the region. The distinctive quality of Hawkes Bay wine is determined by almost ever-present sunshine that is tempered by maritime breezes to promote a lengthy growing season, while the high surrounding mountain ranges provide protection from the wind.
As well as some of the finest wines in the southern hemisphere, Hawkes Bay is also regarded as the ‘food bowl’ of New Zealand with a spate of fine restaurants and a wonderful Farmers’ Market, which brings together numerous artisan sellers every Sunday
Contact our local travel expert for more inspirational ideas before planning an unforgettable wine tasting visit to Hawkes Bay.