BAY WINERIES AND VINYARDS
There are over 4700 producing hectares planted in Hawke's
Bay, with 71 wineries and 172 independent grape growers.
Most of Hawke’s Bay’s wineries produce less
than 200,000 litres per annum and are family owned providing
a true boutique experience.
is one of the hottest and sunniest areas of New Zealand.
Sheltering inland ranges and a maritime influence provide
a perfect balance. Hawke’s Bay’s warm maritime
climate provides a long growing season, low rainfall,
and high sunshine hours.
With more than
25 soil types, from clay loam to limestone to sands
and gravel, the region offers a tremendous diversity
for wine styles. Add to that a choice of sites from
coastal to inland foothills, altitudes from virtually
sea level to several hundred metres and Hawkes Bay is
a region with limitless grape growing opportunities.
Currently 50% of production is white
wine and 50% is red wine. Chardonnay and Cabernet Merlot
varieties combined make up 61% of the annual vintage.
Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Merlot wines
are described as having “luscious ripe fruit flavours
that acquire complex structure and elegance with age”.
The region’s red wine blends show true synergy
in creating a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
Both Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot dominant blended
wines are championed in Hawke’s Bay although tend
towards a higher component of Merlot. Assemblage choices
are dependent on individual vineyard sites and conditions.
Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Merlot wines combine the
best of Old World structure and the New World purity
of fruit flavour.
A Pioneering Spirit
Hawke’s Bay Syrah is produced in a classic European
style and described as “dark, weighty, intensely
varietal with plum, fresh raspberry and black pepper
Hawke’s Bay table Pinot Noir plantings reach into
cooler more elevated sites within the region as opposed
to sparkling Pinot Noir which comprises 8% of the annual
Hawke’s Bay has consistently produced New Zealand’s
leading examples of Chardonnay and has 30% of New Zealand’s
total producing hectares for this variety. Hawke’s
Bay’s Chardonnays are rich, complex wines with
distinctive flavours of citrus and ripe stonefruit.
Unoaked or “natural” Chardonay is also growing
Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc is 16% of the annual
regional vintage and provides an alternative style retaining
the freshness typical of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
while exhibiting ripe tropical fruit flavours.
Individual wineries have had great success with Gewürztraminer,
Viognier, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Semillon, and Chenin
Blanc. Other, more experimental varieties include Arneis,
Verdelho and the red varieties Montepulciano, Sangiovese,
Tempranillo and Zinfandel.
Bay, a pioneering winemaking region, has for many years
made a significant contribution to the New Zealand wine
industry in terms of both quality and quantity.
Hawkes Bay is home
to New Zealands oldest winemaking establishments. The
Mission Vineyard was founded by the Catholics Society
of Mary in 1851 and remains under the same management
today and Te Mata Estate, the oldest winery still operating
in New Zealand, has been erected in stages since the
1870s. The Church Road Winery is another of the early
Hawkes Bay wineries, which was built in the late 1890s.
The region continues
to be at the forefront of the New Zealand wine industry,
exploring new varieties, producing a greater range of
high quality wines and extending the New Zealand wine
Some of New Zealand's earliest table wines were made from
classic grape varieties by wealthy Hawke's Bay farmers
during the 1890s, at a time when others were making rough
Mata Estate planted its first vines in 1892, after the
owner's interest in wine was sparked by a French guest.
The old brick stables, erected in 1872 and later converted
into a winery, are still used today for cask storage.
Mission Vineyards is New Zealand 's oldest
surviving wine producer. More than 150 years ago, French
missionaries of the Catholic Society of Mary planted
their first grapes in Hawke's Bay, to make sacramental
and table wine. Excellent wine still flows there and
each year the Mission is also the venue of a popular
along the road, the Church Road Winery (belonging to
Montana) houses New Zealand's best wine museum.
A Winemakers Climate
Hawkes Bay has
some of New Zealands's highest sunshine hours, providing
the region with a key advantage for successful grape
growing. The growing seasons are generally low in humidity
with continued heat through until April which is ideal
for late maturing varieties such as Cabernet sauvignon
It has a relatively
dry climate with the rugged Kaweka and Ruahine Ranges
offering good protection from moisture carried by the
prevailing westerly winds. The wide range of soil types
in the region offer Hawkes Bay another prime viticultural
asset. In recent years the focus for the new planting
has moved to inland areas on the margins of the Heretaunga
Plains, which offer low vigour vineyard sites.
The Hawkes Bay
climate is perfect for all the premium grape varieties.
Chardonnay and the Cabernet Sauvignon blends from Hawkes
Bay are clear leaders in the New Zealand wine industry,
with Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and sweet dessert wines
also commanding high recognition.
The excellent climate
and growing conditions have allowed the successful development
of all the classical grape varieties to a very high
degree of quality.
Hawke's Bay makes many of the country's greatest
chardonnays. Go out to the coast at Te Awanga, have
lunch at Clearview Estate and try their power-packed
Reserve Chardonnay. But watch your step - the owner
boasts its alcohol level is never below 14 percent,
which reflects how ripe the grapes get. After lunch,
go for a long stroll along the beach.
would disagree that Hawke's Bay makes New Zealand 's
best merlot-based reds. You can buy some excellent reds
here for $20. The other exciting red wine is syrah –
dark, robust and spicy.
A dramatic newcomer in Hawke's Bay is Craggy
Range, at the foot of Te Mata Peak - a $40 million investment,
with stunning wines and a French country-style restaurant,
Terroir, which was voted one of the world's 75 hot new
restaurants by Conde Nast magazine. Sileni Estate is
also worth a visit with two restaurants, a gourmet food
store and a cooking school.
On your bike
easy to get around the flat terrain of the wine country,
and two popular cycling tours - On Year Bike and Bike
About - wend their way through the vineyards, olive
groves, ostrich farms and orchards.
are many wine festivals and vineyard events here each
year - Hawke's Bay Harvest, the Napier Wine and Food
Safari, and a wonderful charity wine auction, which
offers a unique range of Hawke's Bay wines that are
not commercially available.