Hawke's Bay is home to New Zealand's oldest winemaking establishments, and with over 40 wineries to choose from, you're bound to find a glass of something pleasing. The conditions are ideal for late-maturing varieties such as cabernet sauvignon and Riesling. Chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and sweet dessert wines from this area are also prized. Most wineries are open daily, with free tours, tastings, and sales. At least 10 also feature restaurants. Make sure you pick up the free Hawke's Bay Winery Guide and map from the visitor center. New vineyards and wineries are opening all the time; or carry a copy of the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail.
Craggy Range Winery, 253 Waimarama Rd., Havelock North (tel. 06/873-7126; www.craggyrange.com), opened in 2003. It's the brainchild of Americans Terry and Mary Peabody and is already producing excellent chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and merlot. Te Mata Estate, 349 Te Mata Rd., Havelock North (tel. 06/877-4399; www.temata.co.nz), has been erected in stages since 1870. It's been voted New Zealand's top winery. Trinity Hill, 2396 Hwy. 50, Hastings (tel. 06/879-7778; www.trinityhill.com), is a modern winery with picnic hamper-style food available during the summer. It has a bent toward chardonnay and bordeaux-style reds. Te Awa Winery, 2375 Hwy. 50, Hastings (tel. 06/879-7602; www.teawa.com), produces bordeaux-style reds and top-label chardonnay and has one of the best winery restaurants, serving great lunches daily.
Vidal Wines, 913 St. Aubyn St. E., Hastings (tel. 06/876-8105; www.vidal.co.nz), was founded in 1905 and produces many prizewinning wines. Its popular restaurant is open for lunch and dinner daily and is consistently rated one of the best. Alpha Domus, 1829 Maraekakaho Rd., Hastings (tel. 06/879-6752; www.alphadomus.co.nz), is a tiny boutique operation that makes outstanding bordeaux-style reds. Clearview Estate, 194 Clifton Rd., Te Awanga, RD2, Hastings (tel. 06/875-0150; www.clearviewestate.co.nz), has a very pretty lunch restaurant. Its blissful seaside location among grapevines and olive and avocado trees makes it a winner. Brookfields Vineyards & Restaurant, Brookfields Road, Meeanee, Taradale, Napier (tel. 06/834-4615; www.brookfieldsvineyards.co.nz), is another popular restaurant and vineyard setting closer to town. Brookfields' wines are fruit driven and age well.
Mission Estate Winery, 198 Church Rd., Taradale, Napier (tel. 06/845-9350; www.missionestate.co.nz), was founded by the Catholic Society of Mary in 1851. You can dine in the historic seminary building Monday through Saturday nights. Church Road Winery, 150 Church Rd., Taradale, Napier (tel. 06/845-9137; www.churchroad.co.nz), is another of the older wineries. Established in the late 1890s, it contains the first wine museum in New Zealand. It also stages summer concerts; a restaurant serves daily lunches. Sacred Hill Winery, 1033 Dartmoor Rd., Puketapu, Napier (tel. 06/844-0138; www.sacredhill.com), occupies a divine hilltop setting and serves outdoor summer lunches on weekends from November to Easter. Elephant Hill Estate & Winery, 86 Clifton Hill, Te Awanga (tel. 06/873-0400; www.elephanthill.co.nz), produces premium single-estate wine and has a remarkable, architecturally designed winery building in copper and glass that includes a world-class restaurant.
If you feel like exercising, call On Yer Bike Winery Tours, 121 Rosser Rd., Hastings (tel. 06/879-8735; www.onyerbikehb.co.nz). Its flat-terrain tours are suitable for anyone and cycle past olive groves, orchards, ostrich farms, and horse studs (in addition to seven of the better Hastings wineries), giving you a back-road view of this charming region. You have a choice of rickshaws, tandem cycles, or mountain bikes; the tour team will collect any wine you purchase along the way. Tours are NZ$60 per person (some wineries may charge an additional tasting fee), and you should allow up to 5 hours. If you don't have time for a winery tour, head downtown to the New Zealand Wine Centre, AMP Building, 1 Shakespeare Rd., Napier (tel. 06/835-5326; www.nzwinecentre.co.nz), which features red and white aroma awareness rooms, cellar door wine sales, and the Big Picture Wine Theatre, where you can meet six local winemakers (on film) and taste their wines. It's open daily from 10am to 8pm and the full wine experience with tasting costs NZ$29 per person (NZ$15 for nondrinkers).
A Total Wine & Food Destination -- If you have a weakness for fine food and fine wines, you must visit Sileni Estates Winery & Epicurean Centre, Maraekakaho Road, Hastings (tel. 06/879-8768; www.sileni.co.nz). You'll find a divine little gourmet-food store, the wine cellar, and more, all in a striking piece of architecture set among vineyards. The center is open daily from 10am to 5pm (4pm in winter). A 1-hour Vineyard & Winery Tour & Tasting operates daily at 11am and 2pm by appointment only, and costs NZ$15 to NZ$17 per person. They have additional tours that include cheese tasting and a tour of the Village Press Olive Oil press house and Sileni's own olive groves. If you don't have time to visit the wineries, check out the shelves at Advintage, 4 Donnelly St., Havelock North (tel. 0800/111-660; www.advintage.co.nz), where they are bursting with a huge range of New Zealand and international wines, with special deals galore. The shop is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 6pm, and Saturday 10am to 5pm.
Wine Tours -- One of the most down-to-earth and personalized tours is with Grant Petherick Exclusive Wine Tours, 805 Fitzroy Ave., Hastings (tel./fax 06/876-7467; www.flyfishingwinetours.co.nz). He takes one to four people at a time, and everyone raves about him. Tours cost NZ$125 per per hour for the group for both a tour and fly fishing. Grape Escape (tel. 0800/100-489 in NZ; www.grapeescape.co.nz) puts you in the capable and experienced hands of Greg Beachen. His afternoon wine tour (1-5pm) takes in four to five wineries and costs NZ$85. His Foodie Tour is NZ$95 per person.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.