First Stop: Hawkes Bay
We spent our first hot Christmas indoors watching Arthurs Christmas (which is our NEW favorite Christmas movie), making Christmas cookies, and drinking hot chocolate.
We began the three week trip the day after Christmas. First thing on Boxing Day, we packed our tiny Yaris to the brim and set our sights on Hawkes Bay. Before even moving to New Zealand, Hawkes bay was on the top of our list of things to do. We both love wine, therefore we had to taste some of the world famous New Zealand wine.
After driving approximately 5hours, the first thing we did was to head straight to dinner for some green tip mussels. Even if you don’t like mussels, trust me, you will like these mussels. After dinner we wandered around the quiet deserted little town. I’m sure this little town is crawling with people on an every day basis BUT on boxing day it was a ghost town.
After dinner we drove up to Bluff Hill to watch the sunset. The view was absolutely lovely. On top of the hill there were an abundance of flowers and there was no shortage of views.
The next morning we woke up early and head straight to “On Yer Bike.” Hawkes Bay is unique in the sense that it has bike trails constructed by the city that connect all the vineyards. The bike trails are separate from the road so they are safe and the trails are in excellent condition.
We picked up our bikes and hit the road!
Sileni Estates– In 1997, Graeme Avery established Sileni as an export oriented producer, committed to crafting world-class fine wines. This was our favorite vineyard, we really enjoyed all of the wines here.
Favorite Wine: Merlot & Gewurztraminer
Favorite feature: Gift Shop
Abbey Cellars– Established in 2002 (woah! Doesn’t it feel like that was just yesterday?), Abbey focuses on making rich reds with smooth tannins in a middleweight style that is barrelled in 100 percent oak. This property is also a brewery. We sampled the beers here as well as the wines, which were also delicious.
Favorite wine: Riesling
Favorite feature: Outdoor area & live music
Alpha Domus– Established in 1991, “Alpha Domus winery produces world-class wines from a wide range of varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, Chardonnay, Viognier and Syrah.”
Favorite Wine: Viognier
Favorite feature: The quantity of wines available for sample.
Ngatarawa– In the union of two families, this vineyard was established in 1981. This vineyard makes a large variety of wines varying from reserves to softer every day wines.
Favorite Wine: Pinot Noir
Favorite feature: The barn like cellar room and the entire estate.
Te Awa– This vineyard has three sub-brands: Leftfield, Te Awa, and Kidnapper Cliffs. This was our second favorite vineyard, and a close tie with Sileni. All the wines here were exquisite, and the artwork on the labels was beautiful.
Favorite wine: Rose and Merlot/Cabernet blend
Favorite feature: The staff
Ash Ridge– The youngest vineyard we’ve ever been to, Ash Ridge was established in 2008. Not even a decade ago! Even thought the vineyard is fairly young, they just won New Zealand’s Young Winemaker of the Year award! Congrats!
Favorite wine: Premium estate Chardonnay
Favorite Feature: Outdoor restaurant area
Out of the 8 vineyards on the trail, we toured 6 of them! With over 100 vineyards and 70 wineries, there is plenty to explore. We are certain that the best way to go wine tasting is to do it via bike. You would be missing out if you came to Hastings and did not go on a vineyard bike tour. Thank you to the awesome Kiwi’s that gave us this recommendation!
If your looking for a company to use, we would recommend “On Yer Bike.” Their website is awesome, and the service couldn’t have been any better.
Also, don’t forget that this is only one of four tasting trails. If you don’t like wine, there are also other waterfront and scenic trails available. If your interested in exploring all the bike trails Hawke’s Bay has to offer, click here!
Last recommendations: don’t forget to make some super cool friends & have fun!
A few extra pictures: