Visit a Gisborne winery and sample New Zealand’s finest Chardonnay

Gisborne was once the largest wine growing region in New Zealand, although in the 1970s the area was known as ‘carafe country’ for producing large volumes of low quality box wines – but that has changed with time…

The sun kissed, coastal town in the far east of the North Island, which is the first city in the world to witness the sun rise each morning, is now regarded as ‘New Zealand’s Chardonnay Capital’.A wine tour to a typical Gisborne winery will introduce you to expressions of crisp Chardonnays that are internationally renowned for their natural acidity, tropical fruit flavours and subtle marine undertones. Pinot Gris, Gewurtztraminer, Viognier and several European red wine styles are also successfully grown in the region.

At Wine Paths, our local expert in New Zealand can organise exclusive Gisborne winery tours, including elaborate tastings, luxury accommodation, fine dining experiences and some unique activities.

All of our private tours can be tailor made to your exact specifications, ensuring every detail is taken care of so that you can relax and enjoy the matter at hand – sampling world class wines amid the country’s peerless scenery.There are around 19 wineries in the relatively remote region that can be reached from the nearby towns of Hastings and Napier, with many people preferring to use the latter as a base because of the unique charm of its 1930s Art Deco architecture and delectable cuisine.The biggest producer in the area is Pernod Ricard, which contributes almost 70% towards the region’s entire production – although most of these grapes are grown to make sparkling Lindauer Brut, or ‘Kiwi fizz’ as it is sometimes called.

What is now New Zealand’s third largest wine growing region is also famed for the quality of its natural produce as one of New Zealand’s so-called ‘fruit bowls’ – where the golden climate encourages orchards bearing citrus and stone fruits as well avocados and a wide assortment of vegetables.Many Gisborne wineries feature on site restaurants that offer the opportunity of pairing premium wines from their vineyards with gourmet cuisine that can often be enjoyed al fresco surrounded by the region’s signature verdant hills and surfing beaches.There are three main sub-regions in the area – Patutahi, Manutuke and Ormond, which produces the country’s finest Chardonnay from the ‘Golden Slope’; a gently sloping, free-draining 10km escarpment.

Culture enthusiasts will also be attracted to the region’s heritage, which includes several important Maori sites while evidence of the tribal people’s old traditions are still evident in parts of the town. History records reveal Titirangi (Kaiti) Hill as the point of arrival for the first Maori who migrated here from Polynesia by large sea faring canoes called Harouta. And, Kaiti Beach was the site of British discoverer Captain James Cook’s first landing in New Zealand in October 1979. Traditionally, Gisborne wineries were involved in the annual and enormously popular Gisborne Food and Wine Festival, which took place on the Sunday of the long Labour Day weekend in late October. However, last year’s 20th anniversary festival appears to have been the last after its popularity as a music event for youngsters outweighed interest from more discerning, high-spending wine enthusiasts who would appreciate the food and wine more highly.

This year in the festival’s place, a group of local wineries, chefs and producers will be staging an assortment of events to showcase both the region’s fine wines and foods in convivial settings – as well as presenting opportunities to meet and learn a few tricks of the trade from Gisborne winery owners.

If you are interested in visiting Gisborne wineries, contact Wine Paths for more information and inspirational ideas before planning a bespoke trip.

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