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Waiheke Island - the little Bordeaux of New Zealand

By Sue Courtney ©
December 2000
Vineyard list revised Apr 2008

[Introduction] [History] [The Vineyards - April 2008] [Waiheke Links]

location map of Waiheke IslandThirty-five years ago there were no vineyards on Waiheke Island in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf. The handful of permanent residents was largely alternative life-stylers or retired city-folk and the population doubled or trebled over the summer holiday period. The only wine you could buy on the island was from the local pub's bottle store and the journey to the city took an hour and a half by ferry.

But now the island is serviced by fast ferries that carry commuters to and from Auckland City in just 35 minutes. As well as wine being available in supermarkets and classy bottle stores, the island produces it own vinous product and the blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc are likened to similar blends from the classic red wine capital of the world, Bordeaux.

Wine touring is now one of the island's major tourist attractions. The Waiheke Winegrowers' Association numbers 29 and the number will continue to rise as more vineyards are planted and come into production. Several of the vineyards are open to the public for sales, tasting or tours and the new Waiheke Winegrowers' Map provides the most up-to-date information on who, where and when. It also shows places to eat, such as the not-to-be-missed Mudbrick Cafe

It would be a good idea to plan your visit before you go. Pick up a copy of your map from the information booth at the downtown ferry terminal. Alternatively telephone the write to the Waiheke Visitor Information Artworks at Oneroa on (09) 372 9999 - toll free from Auckland, to ask where you can get a copy.

[Introduction] [The Vineyards - April 2008] [Waiheke Links]

The Beginnings
But before you visit the island, take some time to reflect on the beginnings of this flourishing industry.

It was Kim and Jeanette Goldwater who started the viticultural trend on the island when in 1978 they planted the island's first vineyard on a slope overlooking Pukiti Bay. The varieties were Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot predominantly. Now, with the addition of Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay they have over 35 acres planted on the free draining clay soils. The soil, the warm dry summers and the maritime influence are what they consider ideal growing conditions for their wines, which have attained an international reputation.

The second vineyard was planted in 1982 when Stephen White hopped off his round-the-world racing yacht and created the Stonyridge Vineyard on a slope about a kilometre inland from Onetangi Beach. Here he believed he had found a site similar to that in Bordeaux with its maritime climate, low summer rainfall and high sunshine hours. Stephen also planted Bordeaux varieties - Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet France, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot - the grapes that make up the classic blend from the best vineyards of Pauillac. The aim was to make the highest quality Cabernet blend in New Zealand and there are many that believe that the classy Stonyridge Larose has achieved this status.

The third vineyard was that of Doug and Anne Hamilton, who planted the striking Peninsula Estate Vineyard on the northwestern tip of the peninsula overlooking Oneroa Bay - red grapes again, producing their first commercial wine in 1990.

Stonyridge set the scene for high prices. The wine matched the best from Bordeaux and could only be bought on mail order in the first instance. Basic economic theories of supply and demand quickly pushed this wine to cult status and prices rose to a high unheard of before in New Zealand. If you were lucky enough to buy some 'en primeur' the prices were not too bad at first ~$35.00, but if you missed out and had to wait until it was in retail or auction, expect to pay twice, maybe three times more.

Stonyridge also established the first vineyard restaurant on the island. An exclusive item was their own olives grown in the olive grove adjacent to the grape vines on the property.

So for years it was just these three on the Waiheke Wine Trail and their high quality wines were diligently sought after by those who knew what was good.

[Introduction] [History] [Waiheke Links]

The Vineyards - April 2008

Awaroa Vineyard
(Previously known as Orapiu Grove Farm)
324 Waiheke Rd, Onetangi East

Open for wine tasting & sales on Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays from 11am-4pm during January and February.
Open Sundays only from 11am-4pm the rest of the year.

Cable Bay Vineyards
85 Church Bay Road, Church Bay, Oneroa

The Tasting Room is open from 11am to 5pm, 7 days a week. Tastings cost $5 for 7 wines.
Lunches: Tues to Sun from 12 noon.
Dinner: Thurs, Fri and Sat from 6pm.
Ph 372 5889.

Christensen Estate
205 Awaawaroa Road, Awaawaroa Bay

Wine tasting and sales: Sat, Sun & public holdays, 11am to 4pm. By appointment at other times.

Destiny Bay Vineyard
379A Gordons Road, RD 1, Waiheke Island

No facilities.

Edbrooke Vineyard
Gordon's Rd, Half Moon Bay
Vineyard Accommodation. Wine tasting & sales by appointment only

Fenton Estate
56 Korora Road, Oneroa

Wine sales by appointment.

Goldwater Estate
18 Causeway Road, Pukiti Bay

The Tasting Room is open from midday to 4pm during December, January & February.
From March thru November opening hours are Wed - Fri 12pm - 2pm; Sat & Sun 12pm - 4pm
Personalised tasting and vineyard tours are available on request. The Goldwater Long Lunch takes place on the last Friday of every month.

Isola Estate
78 Onetangi Road, Onetangi.

Wine tasting & sales by appointment only.
Ph. 372 5360.

Jurassic Ridge
144 Church Bay Road, Oneroa

Cellar Door opened December 2007. Now open 11am to 4pm daily.
Ph. 372 6602 to confirm.

Kennedy Point Vineyard
44 Donald Bruce Rd, Surfdale

Cellar door hours vary through-out the year. In Dec 2007, opening hours were stated as Tuesday to Friday 10am-2pm and Saturdays 12pm-4pm. Wine and olive oil tasting $5 per person. tasting plates available.
Check the website for up-to-date opening times.
Accommodation available.

Man O' War Vineyards
(Previously Stony Batter Estate)

Not open to the public

Miro Vineyard
Browns Road, Onetangi

Wine sales and tastings from Dec 29th for 3 weeks only, otherwise by appointment. Ph. 372-7854.
Picnic area. Accommodation available

Mudbrick Vineyard and Restaurant
Church Bay Road, Church Bay

Restaurant and wine sales. Open 7 days all year. Wine tasting 10am to 4pm. Lunch from 11am, Dinner from 6.00pm. Group tours by appointment.

Obsidian Vineyard
Te Makiri Rd, Onetangi

Open daily Dec 27 to Jan 29 11am 4pm . Weekends thereafter until the end of February. Otherwise wine sales and tastings by appointment only. Ph. 372 6100.

Owhanake Bay Estate
68 Korora Road, Oneroa

No Cellar Door. Luxury accommodation available. Ph. 372 2220.

Passage Rock Wines
Orapiu Road, Te Matuku Bay

Wine tasting, sales, cafe, tours by appointments ($7). Ph. 372 7257.
Open from Labour Weekend to end of March, weekends only, from 11am to 4.30pm.
Jan: Open from 11am - 4.30pm, 7 days a week.
Feb: Open from 11am - 4.30pm, Wednesday to Sunday.

Peacock Ridge
Trig Hill Road, Onetangi

Not open to the public except by appointment. Ph. 418 3588

Peninsula Estate
52a Korora Road, Oneroa

Closed for the 2007/2008 summer while the property is on the market. It goes under the auctioneer's hammer on February 16th 2008.

Putiki Bay Vineyard
84 Vintage Lane, Te Whau Point

Not open to the public except by appointment. Ph. 372 8089.

Ridgeview Estate
120 Carsons Rd, Whakanewha

Tasting Room open 7 days from 11am to 5pm. Restaurant open daily 11.30am until late. Functions and weddings catered for. Ph. 372 3223.

Saratoga Estate
72 Onetangi Road, Onetangi

OPen from December through February for tours, weddings, picnics and other functions by arrangement. Ph. 372 6450.

Shepherds Point Vineyard
84 Onetangi Road, Onetangi

Not open to the public - refer Mudbrick

Stonyridge Vineyard
80 Onetangi Road, Onetangi

Opening Hours: Open 7 days for lunch and wine tastings. Open Saturday nights for dinner. (Updated May 2008)

Te Motu Vineyard
Onetangi Road, Onetangi

Opening hours change seasonally.
Restaurant open for lunch in the summer daily except Wednesdays and in the winter from Thursday to Sunday.
Wine tasting and sales also available at these times.
Open for dinner from Thursday to Sunday.

Te Whau Vineyard
218 Te Whau Dr, Te Whau Point

Cafe, tasting room, winebar, wine sales, tours.
Labour Weekend to Easter: 11am - 5pm (closed Tuesdays). Winter: Weekends only. Reservations advised. Ph. 372 7191.

The Hay Paddock
Seaview Road, Onetangi

Not open to the public

Topknot Hill Vineyard
82 Onetangi Road, Onetangi

Open daily from 11am - 5pm during the summer.
Open Thursday to Sunday from 11am - 4 pm (or by appointment) during the winter.
Home of the Waiheke Island Brewery and all part of 'Wild on Waiheke'. This multi-acvtivity venue offers a range of activities (such as archery and laser claybird shooting) and a "Taste Waiheke" shop where visitors can sample and purchase locally made products such as olive oils, spreads, chutneys, jams etc as well as local arts and crafts.
Complimentary beer and wine tasting.

View East Vineyard
31 Cowes Bay Road.

Opening Labour Weekend 2008.

Tasting Etiquette
Do not be offended when asked to pay for tasting the wines. The tasting prices are high - some would say very high, but the winegrowers say they cannot afford to pour out tasting samples of the limited quantity product to all the holiday makers and visitors to the island who partake in the vineyard tours, now one of the islands major tourist attractions.

[Introduction] [History] [The Vineyards - April 2008]

Waiheke Wineries on the Web and other links

Check out the Waiheke Winegrowers Association web page for a detailed Waiheke Island map and up to date links to the Waiheke winery websites

Also Pure Waiheke for a wine tasting price guide comparison.

Ananda Wine Tours
Wine Country Tours on Waiheke Island
Fullers Vineyard Tours
Fullers Ferry Timetable
Sea Link Car Ferry

Other Resources
Wharf Rats Bike Hire. Ph. 372 7937.
Waiheke Buses: Ph. 372 8823.
Waiheke Rental Cars and Scooters: Ph 372 6835.
Waiheke Taxi: Ph. 372 8038.
Dial-a-Cab: Ph. 372 9666.

Also check out this page

If you know of any other wine related Waiheke links, please e-mail me so I can add the link to this page.

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