Wine of the Week Home

Wine Blog

Blog (2007-2012)

Tasting Notes

Food File



Old Stuff
WOTW archives
Vine Dining
Book Reviews
Wine Stories



Vinous Links

About NZ Wine

About this Site

Wine of the Week logo
Wine of the Week info
www.wineoftheweek.com
edited by Sue Courtney
e-mail address: winetaster@clear.net.nz

Come to Auckland to see the Wines of New Zealand
© Sue Courtney
1st October 2000
updated Jan 2011

Auckland. It's the main portal into New Zealand with hundreds of visitors arriving daily at the International Airport. But it seems that not many wine lovers hang around New Zealand's largest city, to sample the wines. Instead they head further south, perhaps to Hawkes Bay but more usually to the famed Marlborough region where Sauvignon Blanc has made it a wine destination of international fame or to the beautifully scenic Central Otago region where the pinot noirs are to die for. But Auckland, with its population that numbers over one million people of diverse cultural backgrounds, has the highest number of registered wineries in New Zealand.

Auckland, New Zealand - Wine sub-regions.

Close to the Airport
Mangere

Heading North
Henderson
Hobsonville
Kumeu, Huapai, Waimauku
Warkworth and Matakana
Wellsford

Heading South
Clevedon and Karaka

Across the Seas
Waiheke and Great Barrier

All the country's largest winemakers are here and although they source grapes from most regions within New Zealand, they have for historical and business reasons based their headquarters in Auckland.

There are the country's three Category III producers (ie their annual grape sales exceed 2 million litres), Montana / Brancott, Villa Maria and Nobilo (including Selaks and Kim Crawford brands), as well as several of the Category II producers (annual grape sales between 200,000 and 2 million litres), such as Babich, Coopers Creek, Matua Valley and Morton Estate. Then there are all the 'boutique' producers who have annual sales of less than 200,000 litres.

However the area under vine (at the end of June 2002 is just under 430 hectares, which is less than 1/12th of that in Marlborough. There is a list of the grape varieties grown in Auckland at the bottom of the page.

I have produced here a regional guide to many of the Auckland wineries.

Close to the airport

  • Villa Maria Wines. Montgomerie Road, Mangere
  • Within 10 minutes of leaving Auckland International Airport, you can be out of the car and in the tasting room of Villa Maria and here you can sample some of New Zealand's finest wines at one go.
    The Villa Maria Group incorporates the labels, Villa Maria, Vidals and Esk Valley. Villa Maria sources most of its fruit from Gisborne, Hawkes Bay and Marlborough but does have some vineyards at Mangere and occasionally sources fruit from other Auckland areas.
    A visit to Villa Maria, with their vineyard park and New Zealand's largest undercover state-of-the-art winery is highly recommended. Even if you only have a couple of hours in Auckland whilst changing planes, make this trip. The winery is open daily and a there is a fee charged for wine tasting.
    www.villamaria.co.nz

* * * * * * * * * *

Further to the east, at East Tamaki, is the headquarters and massive production plant of Montana Wines, however it is not open to the public. Montana centre their tourism around their Marlborough complex, called Brancrott.

Henderson
The Henderson district is the place where the heart of Auckland's wine making history began and Pleasant Valley Wines in Henderson Valley Road is the oldest. The winery was established in 1902 by Dalmatian, Stephen Yelas, who bought the property some years before to dig for gum. For many years, Henderson was the commerical hub of the New Zealand wine industry.

On a tour from Auckland City, the place to start your vineyard tour is at Lincoln Road, 15 minutes from the city centre along the northwestern motorway. This was once a rural country road lined with vineyards on either side. Now just a few stalwarts remain, sharing their boundaries with factories and residential housing as urbanisation makes the land too valuable for others to stay. One day these wineries will make a fortune from the sale of their land.
Most of the other Henderson wineries are further west, near the scenic Waitakere Ranges. All wineries are listed but not all are worth visiting. Some retain their traditions while others move into the 21st century with International acclaim.

  • Artisan Wines 99 Parrs Cross Rd Oratia, right next to The Packing Shed Cafe. Open daily. www.artisanwines.co.nz.
  • Babich Wines, Babich Road, Henderson A tier of wines with the Estate, Winemakers Reserve, Irongate and Patriarch labels. Closed on Sundays. www.babichwines.co.nz.
  • Corazon Wines, 393 Henderson Valley Road, Henderson. The subregion's newest winery, opening for tastings in 2010. Open Wed-Fri, 11am -6pm. Sat, 11am - 5pm. Closed on Sunday. Monday & Tuesday. www.corazonwines.co.nz.
  • Lincoln Vineyards, 130 Lincoln Road, Henderson. A big range of wines from this heritage producer with grapes now sourced from Gisborne, Hawkes Bay and Marlborough (the last vines around the winery were removed in 1998). Open Mon to fri from 9am to 5,.30pm, Sat from 9am to 12 noon, and Sunday from 12 noon to 5pm. www.lincolnwines.co.nz.
  • Pleasant Valley Wines, 322 Henderson Valley Road, Henderson. Auckland's oldest winery. Open Mon-Fri, 9am -5pm. Sat, 11am - 4pm. Closed on Sundays.
  • Sapich Brothers Limited, 150 Forest Hill Road, Henderson. Home of the legendary 'Purple Death' (a liqueur). Scenes from The Vintners Luck were filmed in the vineyard here. Open daily. www.sapich.co.nz.
  • St Jerome Wines, 219 Metcalf Road, Henderson. Cabernet Merlot made from Henderson fruit is consistently one of the country's best and is cellared for three or 4 years before release. Other wines source Hawkes Bay and local fruit. Open daily. www.stjerome.co.nz.

New Zealand Winegrowers lists a number of other Henderson wineries, but most are not open to the public.

Kumeu, Huapai and Waimauku
It is only about a 30-minute drive from Auckland City to the first of the vineyards in this region. It is a younger area than the more southerly Henderson vineyards but similarly, many were started by Dalmatian families. Others are much newer operations. Some world class wines are produced from here and well as some of the traditional 'Dally' styles. Some of the wineries are only open on weekends.

  • Soljans Wines, 366 State Highway 16, Kumeu. A brand new winery complex, opened July 2002, is the first vineyard on your left as you drive along State Highway 16 heading north. Cafe and function centre. Open daily. www.soljans.co.nz
  • Wine & Art, 505 State Highway 16, Kumeu. The inspiration of Angeline Nobilo of Waimarie Wines, who saw the combination of art and wine as a ideal setting for sales and tasting of their Muriwai Valley grown wines. Five wineries feature at Wines & Art. As well as Waimarie, there is Mahana Ridge and Waimauku Sands from Waimauku, Aotea Vineyard from Shelley Beach on the South Kaipara Head, and Kaipara Estate, also on the South Kaipara Head. www.waimariewines.co.nz
  • Kumeu River Wines, 550 State Highway 16, Kumeu. As you near the Kumeu village. It's internationally acclaimed chardonnay has been featured in the U.S. Wine Spectator magazine's Wines of the Year on more than one occasion. Open daily except Sunday. www.kumeuriver.co.nz
  • Kerr Farm Vineyards, 48 Dysart Lane, Kumeu. A boutique winery which shares a boundary with Harrier Rise. Most fruit sourced from the home vineyard including a tasty Pinotage, plus a Hawkes Bay chardonnay. Open weekends only. www.kerrfarmwine.co.nz
  • Nobilo Wines, Station Road, Huapai. Owned by Constellation Wines, this is NZ's second largest producer. Many of the original vines surrounding the winery have been pulled, but there are still a few hectares, which can be sighted behind the complex as you drive along Station Road. Well worth visiting. Grapes are sourced from most areas within NZ and as well, some of the companies other agency wines are available for purchase here. Open daily. www.nobilo.co.nz
  • Coopers Creek, 601 State Highway 16, Huapai. Another winery with an international reputation. Wines sourced from Gisborne, Hawkes Bay and Marlborough as well as the home vineyard. Open daily. www.cooperscreek.co.nz
  • Awa Valley Vineyard, Awa Road, Kumeu. The vineyard was developed in the late 1960s, but in 1999 the current owners, Colleen and Stuart Cameron, took over. Open weekend and public holidays from 11am to 6pm.   www.awavalley.co.nz
  • Matua Valley Wines, Waikoukou Valley Road, Waimauku. Often on my itinerary when I show visitors around. They have a great wine shop with lots of vinous paraphernalia besides wine to buy. Matua source wines from most regions except Northland and Central Otago. Open daily. www.matua.co.nz
  • Twin Totara Wines, 816 Old North Road, Waimauku. Specialising in Cabernet Franc and Merlot grown on the property. Open Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 5pm. www.twintotara.co.nz
  • West Brook Winery, Ararimu Valley Road, Waimauku. West Brook relocated from Henderson after the building of a neighbouring residential subdivision brought about a change in local body regulations, limiting the use of sprays on the vines and bird scaring guns. The new home in Ararimu Valley Road makes this winery visit a destination. The new vineyard was planted in 1999. Lovely rural views. West Brook sources grapes from Gisborne, Hawkes Bay and Marlborough. Open daily. www.westbrook.co.nz

Check out www.kumeuwinecountry.co.nz for lots more information about this heritage area.

Southern Kaipara Harbour

  • Kaipara Estate, Waioneke Valley, South Head Peninsula. Progressively planted since 1995, the first releases were from the 2003 vintage. The Nine Lakes label is for the top wines and the Monks Road second label is for wines more approachable in their youth. Wines are available for tastings and sales at Wine & Art in Kumueu. www.kaiparaestate.co.nz

Warkworth / Matakana Wineries
With the northern motorway now terminating at Orewa, it is only a further 30 minutes drive to the wineries in the north of the Auckland region. Although planted in the 1900's, the revival came in the late 1980's after the Antipodean Farm released their Bordeaux-style red, a 5 litre bottle of which sold at auction for $5000. This fuelled interest in the area although it has not been as fast developing as other areas further south. All of the wineries are fairly 'boutique-ish'. Several of the wineries are open to the public. Most are now charging for tastings.

In 2006, with the increasing number of wine growers in the Warkworth / Matakana area, the Matakana Winegrowers group was formed. In September 2006, the members are listed as Ascension, Brick Bay, Contour Estate, Courage Creek, Coxhead Creek, Gillman Vineyard, Greve, Hawks Nest, Herons Flight, Hinchco Family Vineyard, Hinemoa Estate, Hyperion, Hurstmere House, Mahurangi Estate, Matakana Estate, Merryfields, Old Mill, Omaha Bay, Providence, Puriri Flat, Ransom, Saltings Estate, Takatu, The Castle Matakana,Ti Point, Whitmore Wines, and Atakama Wine Workshop.

In September 2006, 16 members of Matakana Winegrowers appear on the Matakana Wine Trail brochure, which can be downloaded from the website www.matakanawine.com. The following producers are open to the public.

  • Ransom Wines, Valerie Close, Warkworth. Ph: (09) 4250494. www.ransomwines.co.nz.
    Heading into Warkworth, Ransom is on your left about a kilometre after the 'honey place'. Excellent Pinot Gris, tasty chardonnay and stellar reds, including Carmenere which is to be released as a single varietal from the 2005 vintage. Open daily during the summer from 10am to 5pm. Closed on Mondays at other times of the year. Food platters and wine tasting trays.
  • Ascension Vineyard, 480 Matakana Road, Matakana. Ph: (09) 4256667. www.ascensionvineyard.co.nz.
    Opened in October 2000. Open daily for tasting and sales of wines made from graped sourced from the vineyard and outside of the region. The Oak Grill Restaurant opened in October 2007. There is the Belfry function centre and vineyard and winery tours are available. There is a charge for winetasting.
  • Hawks Nest, 646 Matakana Road, Matakana. Ph: 027 217 2588. Open on Saturdays throughout the summer from 11 am to 5 pm.
  • Plume / Runner Duck / Herons Flight Vineyard, 49 Sharps Road, Matakana. Ph: (09) 4227915.
    Herons Flight was the second winery in this region with a golden start after the 1991 vintage Cabernet Sauvignon won a gold medal. Now an Italian varieties specialist producing Sangiovese and Dolcetto, their cellar door is at Plume Restaurant, operated by the owners of Runner Duck wines. Open Daily from 10am. Plume Restaurant opened in October 2010.
  • Hyperion Wines, Tongue Farm Road, Matakana. Ph: (09) 4229375. www.hyperion-wines.co.nz.
    Won a gold medal for the 1998 Merlot in 1999. At the end of a metal road. Check the sign at the bottom of the road, but usually open daily.
  • Omaha Bay Vineyard, 189 Takatu Road, Matakana. Ph. (09) 4230022. www.omahabay.co.nz.
    The winery, cellar door and restaurant is situated at the top of the ridge with gorgeous views across Omaha Bay towards Little Barrier Island. Grapes are grown on the vineyard and from outside the region. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 10.30am to 4pm (later in the summer). There is a charge for wine tasting.
  • Contour Estate, 139 Takatu Road, Matakana. Ph. (09) 4230002. www.contourestate.co.nz
    A specialist Syrah producer, Contour Estate opened in November 2007. They are open in the summer, Friday to Sunday from 10am - 4pm. Tasting cost $5 per glass, refundable on purchase of a 6-pack of the Syrah.
  • Brick Bay Wines and Sculpture Trail, Arabella Lane off Mahurangi East Road. www.brickbay.co.nz.
    A boutique winery specialising in Pinot Gris and Merlot and producer of the region's first gold medal winning Pinot Gris in 1998. The 'Glasshouse' and Sculpture Trail are open 10am to 5pm daily. In April 2007 it cost $10 to walk the sculpture trail and $4 to taste three wines, refundable on purchase.
  • Mahurangi River Vineyard, Hamilton Road, Warkworth. www.mahurangiriver.co.nz.
    Re-opened early 2010 under new ownership and cafe and winery redevelopment. Summer hours: 9 am to 4 pm. Tasting Fee $5. Winery tours. Breakfast and lunch available in the restuarant. Outstanding rural and vineyard views.

The following boutique wineries are closed to the public or may possibly be visited by appointment.
  • Courage Creek Vineyard, Duck Creek Road, Matakana. www.couragecreek.co.nz.
  • Coxhead Creek Road Vineyard, Coxhead Creek Road, Leigh. Syrah specialist.
  • Gillman Vineyard, 99 Sharp Road, Matakana,. Visit by appointment. Ph Toby on 021 0373445.
  • Hinchco Family Vineyard, 150 Monarch Downs Way, Matakana. A boutique winery specialising in Merlot. Wines available at 'Taste', 2 Neville Street, Warkworth.
  • Matakana Estate, 586 Matakana Road, Matakana. Ph: (09) 4250494.
  • Providence Vineyards, Omaha Beach Road, Matakana. A boutique winery specialising in predominantly Merlot. Wines are exported to the UK.
  • Saltings Estate Vineyard, 1210 Sandspit Road, Sandspit. Boutique vineyard accommodation. www.saltings.co.nz.
  • Takatu Vineyard, Whitmore Road, Matakana. www.takatuwine.co.nz. Boutique vineyard with first release from the 2003 vintage.
  • The Castle, Whitmore Road, Matakana. www.the-castle.co.nz. Boutique Winery and spectacular accommodation.
  • Ti Point Wines, Ti Point Road, Leigh. The Matakana vineyard specialised in 'Bordeaux' grapes with grapes from other regions used to supplement the portfolio. www.tipoint.co.nz. Wines available in retail.
  • Valley View Wines, 646 Monarch Downs Way, Matakana.

Related Link: A 2001 winter reconnaissance to Warkworth and Matakana. This link provides a detailed map of the area.

Wellsford is noted on the map. There are no vineyards here today, but at the rate new vineyards are being planted there is bound to be one there soon. However, I include Wellsford for it is here that Charles Levet and his son William became New Zealand's first commercial winemakers in 1863. They shipped their wine by sea, out through the Kaipara Harbour, down the west coast of New Zealand and into the Manukau Harbour, where they off-loaded their barrels at the port of Onehunga. See this story

Heading South
Back to the road and down the Southern Motorway, exiting at Papakura. This a relatively untapped area, with wineries becoming established in the Clevedon and Karaka regions. Just a couple are open to the public and are perhaps a worthwhile detour on a trip south.

  • Arahura 146 Ness Valley Road, Clevedon. This tiny operation is out of a converted garage. A couple of useful red wines are made from blends of merlot and cabernet sauvignon blends. www.arahuravineyard.co.nz.
  • Inverness Estate Ness Valley Road, Clevedon. This vineyard is a little further down the road past Arahura. Current wines are Chardonnay, Semillon and Cabernet Franc. Open weekends from 10am to 4pm. www.inverness.co.nz.
  • Puriri Hills, 398 North Clevedon Road, Clevedon. Wonderful red wines are produced from the property. Open weekends only. www.puririhills.co.nz.
  • Rannach Vineyard 308 Ness Valley Road, Clevedon. A red wine specialist, this vineyard borders a native forest with tracks to meander through. Open weekends from 10am to 5pm. www.rannach.co.nz.
  • Twilight Vineyards 105 Twilight Road, Clevedon. Open 11am - 4pm every weekend throughout the year. Open daily during January and February. Open Thursday to Sunday November, December and March. www.twilightvineyards.com.
  • Vin Alto, Jones Road, Papakura (en route to Clevedon) WM A range of Italian varieties have been planted by Delmaine founder, Enzo Bettio and Leighton Smith's Clevedon Hills wines are also avilable here. Open in the weekends for wine tastings but if you are heading that way, why not book a seat at the fabulous Enoteca restuarant with much of the produce from the surrounding farm. The food is specificially designed to match the wines. www.vinalto.com.

Not open to the Public.

  • Clevedon Hills Vineyard, Tourist Road, Clevedon
  • Edgewater Estate, 455 Glenbrook Beach Road, Waiuku
  • Hitchen Road Vineayrd, Hitchen Road, Pokeno
  • Karaka Point Vineyard, 31 Creek Street, Drury www.karakapointvineyard.co.nz. Tours by appointment.
  • Karaka Vineyards, 118 Beach Road, Papakura
  • St Nesbit Winery, Hingaia Road, Papakura
  • Villa Noortheim, 360 Ness Valley Road, Clevedon - www.villanoortheim.co.nz.

From Auckland by sea
Waiheke Island
is only 35 minutes from downtown Auckland by quickcat ferry. The island has undergone a frenzy of vineyard planting in the last few years and there are 24 growers in the Waiheke Winegrowers Association. Check out my Waiheke page for a comprehensive coverage.

Great Barrier Island is 90km from Auckland City. John Mellars established his Great Barrier Island vineyard in the remote location of Okupu Bay on the west coast above the Tryphena harbour. I have not tasted the wines but have heard a decent red is made and is popular with boaties in the summer. Open by appointment only. Website: http://home.exetel.com.au/mellars/john/

Another vineyard has been established on the island at Oasis Lodge - www.barrieroasis.co.nz.

Daily quickcat ferries take 2 1/4 hours to travel from Auckland to the west coast harbour of Tryphena. Some services carry on to Whangaparapara and Fitzroy. The much slower Sealink (car and passenger) ferry and air travel is also available. There is no public transport on the island, however taxis are available and tours and rental cars are available. For further information check out www.greatbarrier.co.nz/GBIVIC/GBI_travel.htm

Auckland Grape Variety tonnages harvested from the 2004 & 2007 vintages

Variety

2004*

2007*

Chardonnay

425

406

Chenin Blanc

3

0

Gewurztraminer

4

32

Muller Thurgau

2

0

Muscat Varieties

0

0

Pinot Gris

98

193

Riesling

0

0

Sauvignon Blanc

110

44

Semillon

10

7

Viognier

0

12

Other Whites

13

7

Cabernet Franc

82

56

Cabernet Sauvignon

168

71

Malbec

74

28

Merlot

272

149

Palomino

20

18

Pinot Noir

105

63

Pinotage

56

46

Syrah

13

85

Other Reds

42

40

Hybrids

4

0

Total

1497

1241

* Figures are rounded and may not add to the total as supplied by New Zealand Winegrowers.

Disclaimer: Travelling times mentioned on this page do not account for traffic holdups, rush hour traffic and accidents. If travelling in prime time along motorways, allow for extra time.

The information on this page was researched by Sue Courtney and normal copyright applies, including the html code.


Top of Page | About NZ Wine Page | Wine of the Week Home

E-mail me: winetaster@clear.net.nz