Hawke’s Bay, NZ

by Jay on February 22, 2010

The drive from Napier to the wine country is a scenic and easy drive, just 11 miles south. While in Auckland, a local wine merchant in the Stables suggested half a dozen wineries that were his favorites. Among them, were Clearview, Craggy Range, Black Barn, and Te Mata Estate.  He recommended Black Barn for lunch.

Clearview had a selection of over 20 wines they were pouring.  It was a bit overwhelming, but we had a taste of most and by enlarge enjoyed them.  Clearview is located on the coast and has a nice outdoor restaurant.

Moving inland, taking a backroad route to Craggy Range, we felt like we were driving through the countryside of old Napa Valley – rolling hills, sheep, endless vineyards, shady lanes…   We could see the towering Craggy Range to our right and eventually crossed over the Tukituki river and drove back north a mile or so to Craggy Range Winery.  There we tasted their Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot – all excellent. We strolled the beautiful grounds and ended up making a reservation for dinner at their restaurant.

Craggy Range Winery, Napier, NZ

Craggy Range Winery near Napier, NZ

Onward in to North Havelock for a bit of shopping and searching for picnic foods at a local gourmet grocery store (Bellatino’s).  Picked up a yummy selection of cheeses, fruit, smoked salmon…

Onward to Black Barn.  Loved all their wines, but especially the barrel fermented Chardonnay.  It had a black pepper nose and crisp light grapefruit taste that was unique and satisfying.  Though we don’t like Chardonnay as it is generally made in California, the New Zealand Chardonnay’s are very good – drier and finer tasting.

Finally, we went to Te Mata Winery, just before closing at 5 pm.  As with most of the wineries, we tasted many extraordinary whites.  All the wineries are producing reds too, but most of them are not working for us.  They are designed for cellaring, and are not read for easy enjoyment now.

We had an hour or so before Dinner at Craggy range, so we drove to the top of Te Mata Peak. It’s a 15 minute drive to the summit and the view of the vineyards and hills beyond is breathtaking.

Here’s a view to the west, with a storm blowing through:

Te Mata mountain, NZ

Storm entering valley, seen from Te Mata peak, NZ

Here’s a view to the East with Craggy Range winery seen in the middle-ground along side the Tukituki river.

Te Mata Peak near Napier, NZ

Te Mata Peak near Napier, NZ

Dinner a Craggy Range was very fine.  We shared a woodfire roasted pork chop, with roasted garlic, and had a carafe of their wonderful pinot – grapes from the Otago region of the South Island.

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