Hawke’s Bay wineries are among the most prestigious in New Zealand, renowned for producing some of the country’s most recognised wine labels and accommodating the thousands of visiting wine tourists in style.
Situated in a semi-circular bay on the South Island that rises from the coastline towards a picturesque landscape of rolling hills scattered with charming art deco towns including Hastings and Napier, Hawkes Bay vineyards have been producing wine since the arrival of Marist missionaries in 1851. Over 150 years later, their legacy is the oldest and second largest wine growing region in New Zealand boasting around 72 wineries in Hawkes Bay ranging from large scale exporters such as Sileni, Church Road and the Mission Estate to small, boutique estates.
At Wine Paths, we can organise exclusive tours of the best wineries in Hawkes Bay, including elaborate tastings at renowned vineyards, luxury stays, fine dining experiences and some unique outdoor activities. Hawke’s Bay wineries are best known for their Bordeaux style red blends, which use proportionately more Merlot than Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as some impressive aromatic Chardonnay and cool climate varietals from Pinot Noir.
The distinctive quality of the region’s wines comes courtesy of practically year-round sunshine, which creates a warm climate that is tempered by maritime winds to extend the growing season and encourage elegant wines that age gracefully. The terroir, meanwhile, is product of historic meanderings by four rivers – creating a kaleidoscope of different soil types that are reflected in the varied styles of wine that come from the region.
Most Hawkes Bay vineyards are concentrated around the main towns of Hastings and Napier – with Gimblett Gravels and the Bridge Pa Triangle two of the most famous sub regions. Gimblett Gravels, in particular, is renowned for its red wines grown from a unique shingle terroir that has made the area the most expensive wine estate in New Zealand. The Bridge Pa Triangle, meanwhile, is a rural Maori settlement that is roughly delineated by three roads and has become famed for its world class Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Among the Hawke’s Bay wineries that can visited as part of our exclusive tours is the Church Road estate – one of the region’s oldest vineyards that has been drawing from traditional French wine making techniques since it was first established in 1897. A typical visit to a Hawkes winery involves a guided tour of the vineyards and cellar before the opportunity to sample several premium vintages – often accompanied by gourmet food pairings or a delectable meal at an on-site restaurant.
Hawke’s Bay is also regarded as a foodie’s paradise with a vast array of fine dining restaurants, artisan producers, and a wonderful farmers’ market that brings together the region’s finest fresh local produce every Sunday. The region also hosts an internationally acclaimed Food and Wine Festival twice a year, with the winter months offering roaring fires, warming dishes and full-bodied reds, while the summer incarnation brings alfresco dining, BBQs and crisp white wines.
The ideal time to visit wineries 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. If you are interested in visiting a Hawkes winery, visit our New Zealand destination page for more information and inspirational ideas before planning a bespoke experience that can be tailored to your exact specifications by our local expert.