Auckland Wine Region with NZ WinePro – Auckland, New Zealand
After a trip full of activity, we decided to treat ourselves to a day of wine tasting with NZ WinePro!
While we originally planned to visit Waiheke Island for a wine day, I found NZ WinePro (thank you Mari!) which looked like it offered a relaxing experience we were looking forward.
There are nine major wine regions for New Zealand. On the North Island, there is Auckland, Waikato/Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, and Wairarapa. On the South Island, the regions include Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury, and Central Otago. The largest region is Marlborough and the steam engine for Sauvignon Blanc. In the USA, the wine we see from New Zealand is exclusively Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand is the Sauvignon Blanc capital of the world!) so when we were told we would be tasting varietals like Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Bordeaux Blends, we were a but stunned. Since the Auckland wine region is the farthest north in the country, these cool climate varietals perform well, especially for the white wines. We were excited to expand our knowledge of New Zealand wine.
Around the Auckland wine region, NZ WinePro offers several different day trip option and we chose the Piha Karekare Rain Forest Wine Adventure for a six hour tour of three wineries and the beautiful western beaches. This is apparently their most popular day trip as it blends together wine and a chance to see the coast!
The owner, John, picked us up from Auckland and transported us to our first vineyard. It was a surprise private experience for us as no one else booked for this day. We learned that wine in this area was mostly from Croatian immigrants making wine as a hobby for themselves, a piece of home.
Our first stop was Babich Wines, one of the oldest and largest family operated vineyards. The wine at Bibach was fantastic and since they are a bigger producer and exporter, we are hoping to find their bottles back home. While we are able to get New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc easily, it has been the other variety expressions that have left an impact on us. One wine that particularly struck us was their newly planted Albarino. Many of the grapes were still on the vine but it was just coming up to harvest season so the staff at the vineyards were busy preparing for the harvest. Such a fun time to visit a wine region!
It began to pour and it continued to rain for most of the day. This was a perfect activity for a rainy day so it was not all that impactful. A portion of the day was sightseeing Piha Beach (black sand beach but also one of the most dangerous due to strong rip tide) and the Karekare Waterfall.
The beach was still beautiful through the haze of the rain. We drove around and walked the black sand beach, curious how stunning this area must be in the sunlight.
Leaving the beach, the landscape quickly turned to rainforest as we traveled to the waterfall. Once we arrived, we were thrilled to see the waterfall gushing! Apparently the day before it was barely a trickle and this area desperately needed rain so at least we go a beautiful waterfall out of the day!
We then headed to our second tasting at Soljans Winery. Here we also had lunch at the Vineyard Cafe which we both really enjoyed. I had a Roasted Portabollo Mushroom and Feta over Arugula with Balsamic Vinegar and Kevin had the Vine Smoked Salmon Potato Hashcake with young rocket, wasabi aioli, and a smoked lime dressing.
The tour continued with two more tastings. ended with two more tastings at Coopers Creek Vineyard and Westbrook Winery. Both showcased exceptional varietals and continued to impress us. We enjoyed everything about this day.
This wine tour was the perfect way to spend a rainy day. We returned back to downtown Auckland around 5PM with happy hour in full swing- time to explore. Thank you to John and NZ WinePro for showing us beyond the city of Auckland and exposing us to New Zealand wine!