An ex-colleague of mine – who moved to New Zealand last year – recently described Waiheke as her “spiritual home” and it’s not hard to see why. Just a 35-minute ferry ride from Auckland, this beautiful island is packed with stunning vineyards, beaches and olive groves which sit amongst a wonderful array of restaurants, boutique galleries and shops.
With over 20 wineries to choose from, on arrival you can jump aboard the Waiheke Explorer Hop-on Hop-off tour bus and make your way around as many of them as you please. During a day trip, we managed to squeeze in three with a leisurely lunch.
We started at Batch Winery to take in the magnificent views and enjoy some lunch from the delicious seasonal menu. It’s easy to while away the hours sitting in the outdoor marquee overlooking the Coromandel Peninsula with a flight of the estate’s delightfully fresh sparkling wines.
Our next stop saw us wandering through the vineyards of Goldie Estate where we received a very warm welcome alongside some incredible wines to taste. Among my favourites was the juicy, ripe Rosé 2016. Made from 100% Merlot grapes, this fresh and delicate wine was swiftly purchased to accompany our BBQ later that evening. From the reds, it was the award-winning Reserve Syrah 2013 which really hit the spot. Bold and elegant, this wine was full of rich dark fruit flavours with hints of mocha and sweet spice.
Our final stop of the day was Cable Bay where you can sample as many as 10 different varieties – from Pinot Noir to Chardonnay – grown in one of two small lot vineyards located on Waiheke and in Marlborough. Of the bunch, I recommend the delightful Viognier 2016. With floral aromas and flavours of apricot and elderflower, this enticing wine is spicy and complex and would be a perfect match to a Thai green curry or fiery papaya salad.
Despite its status as a producer of artisan wines, this renowned wine region doesn’t make enough for mass export to the UK. You can source a small selection online at The New Zealand Wine Cellar or you could use wine tasting as a reason to book a trip to Auckland. Just in case you need an excuse!