New Zealand has cemented itself as one of the best wine-making countries in the world. Thanks to the diverse landscape, our country produces an equally diverse range of incredible wines.
From world-famous Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc to unmissable Central Otago Pinot Noir, Aotearoa has no shortage of divine drops. To help narrow things down, we’ve rounded up our favourite New Zealand wineries you need to visit at least once. We’ll toast to that.
Cloudy Bay Marlborough
A quintessential Marlborough gem is none other than Cloudy Bay. Established in 1985, Cloudy Bay was one of the first five winemakers to venture into Marlborough—a region now known as one of the finest winemaking locations in the world. The internationally acclaimed winery is known for its iconic Sauv Blanc, elegant Pinot Noir and aromatic Chardonnay. The cellar door is located in the winery itself with a dreamy outdoor wine lounge worthy of passing the day away.
Sitting pretty beneath the dramatic Pisa mountain range in Central Otago, Amisfield Estate crafts some of the country’s best wine—especially their renowned Pinot Noir. The vineyard prides itself on letting nature take its course with minimal winemaking intervention. The result? Wine as pure as the place itself. Discover the range at Amisfield’s beautiful bistro and cellar door on the shores of Lake Hayes in Queenstown. Here they serve a signature “trust the chef” degustation menu starring three to seven courses designed to be matched with their famous wines.
Man O' War Vineyards
Right on the far end of Auckland's Waiheke Island sits Man O' War—a vineyard that you absolutely must visit. Head inside the 18th-century style villa (aka the tasting room) for a memorable wine tasting of fine wines with names like Valhalla, Dreadnought and Pinque where you'll no doubt join legions of fans of this exquisite wine. Pull up a pew on the expansive lawn or on the deck, order a couple of platters and while away a leisurely afternoon.
Cloudy Bay Central Otago
Nestled between the stunning Lake Dunstan and the hills of their Northburn Vineyard, Cloudy Bay’s Central Otago Cellar Door is the perfect spot for those looking to indulge. Treat yourself to The Cloudy Bay Shed cellar door experience to sip your way through a wine tasting flight and soak in knowledge from the local experts to the backdrop of sprawling views. A bucket-list must-try for any wine-lover, book your visit here.
Gibbston Valley Winery
Located in the heart of Central Otago, Gibbston Valley Winery is known for crafting award-winning Pinot Noirs. The picturesque winery also showcases an unmissable gourmet restaurant, a platter-loaded cellar door and even an on-site cheesery. No visit is complete without a guided tasting tour through their incredible wine cave—it’s the largest of its kind in New Zealand. What’s more, the winery also offers bike hire so you can visit via the scenic Gibbston River Trail. Gibbston Valley, you’ve outdone yourself.
Hawke’s Bay’s Mission Estate is a must-visit for all wine lovers. Established in 1851, it is the country’s oldest winery and the birthplace of New Zealand wine. The cellar door is housed in a beautifully restored historic building with sweeping views of the vineyards, coast and beyond. Pair your visit with a sun-drenched lunch on the outdoor terrace at Mission Estate Restaurant. The restaurant showcases the region’s very best fresh produce to serve contemporary fine dining cuisine.
With a wide range of vineyards under its belt, Mt Difficulty has you spoilt for choice when it comes to incredible wines. The Central Otago-based winery is comprised of several vineyards all sitting pretty under Bannockburn’s mountain. Mt Difficulty utilises the different terroirs to craft both regional and single-vineyard varieties. Discover your favourite with a trip to the winery’s picturesque cellar door and restaurant. The venue showcases views of the dramatic rugged rock landscape and seasonal colours of the Cromwell Basin.
Away from Waiheke's main vineyard strip, venture onto a gravel path that will take you through lush sub-tropical scenery and stunning views. Keep going all the way around the loop until you finally alight, dusty and tired at the oasis that is Passage Rock. Waiheke's most awarded winery offers a legendary cellar door experience. With every varietal available for tasting, you can complement these most delicious of drops with a visit to the stunning on-site bistro which sits serenely amongst the Syrah vines. One of the island's most glorious spots to lose a few hours.
Te Mata Estate
Established in 1896, Te Mata Estate remains family-owned to this day. The Hawke’s Bay winery produces 11 exquisite wines made from grapes grown exclusively in the region. Go behind-the-scenes on a tour to see the country’s oldest barrel hall and the stunning Havelock Hills in the heart of the estate. Be sure to try the famous Te Mata Coleraine—it’s praised as one of New Zealand’s finest red wines and collected by wine enthusiasts worldwide.
Established in 1961 by George Fistonich, the 21-year-old leased five acres of land from his father in Mangere, Auckland. He harvested his first grapes a year later and the brand Villa Maria was born. Located just a five-minute drive from Auckland Airport, the vineyard and cellar door is a popular lunch spot. You’ll feel a million miles away from the rat race as you share a platter overlooking the beautiful Ihumatao Vineyard—wine in hand, of course. The vineyard is also known and loved for hosting concerts in its stunning outdoor setting and their recent acquisition of Albariño vines is well worth trying.
Iconic winemaker Wither Hills certainly know a thing or two about beautiful wines with their boutique Single Vineyard range (which only use grapes sourced from one vineyard) offering exquisite tastes from the hills of Marlborough. Add to this their core range comprising everything from Pinot Noir rose to chardonnay and Hawke's Bay Merlot, you'll be wanting to check out the Wither Hills cellar door, stat. Enjoy a day of wine tasting at their cellar door that's open seven days a week, and offers a wine tasting in their beautiful courtyard overlooking the beautiful Wairau Valley.
Can't get enough? Tour all of Waiheke's wineries in one day.
Image credit: Cloudy Bay