We wake in Waipataki and walk a few minutes down to the beach. A small golden sandy bay, enclosed by rugged looking hills, a world away from the city. The waves are big and the tides are strong. I wouldn’t recommend swimming here unless you are a confident swimmer. I’m not, but can manage a paddle in the surprisingly warm water. The morning colours are starting to appear through the clouds. This beautiful little place is still and peaceful.
I wish I could stay longer. However, our wine tasting tour is calling.
Hawake’s Bay is the oldest wine region in New Zealand and the second largest. Today, we are joining Frankly Tours to help guide us in our wine tasting experience.
At first I was disappointed to learn that the owner, Frank, would not be our tour guide. Frank has many excellent reviews! I need not have worried though, Mark was an excellent host. Friendly and knowledgeable, we were in great hands.
We visit 4 quite different vineyards, the first being the oh so grand and elegant Mission Estate. (Mission estate is another winery that holds concerts amongst the vines.)
Established in 1851, it is New Zealand’s oldest winery. The building exudes elegance. A grandiose colonial styled building with a tree lined driveway, central water fountain and a foliage engulfed porch to welcome you in.
We try 6 wines here while a Mission Estate host shares his knowledge of wine making with us. I learn that pinot grapes grow really well in Otago but not in Hawkes Bay. This is because the pinot grapes have very thin skin and cannot manage with the heat Hawkes bay gets. I also learn that Shiraz and Syrah are made from the same type of grapes.
We then move onto Moana Park, a small boutique winery producing 100% plant based wines. We wine taste, alfresco style, under walnut trees, while snacking on fresh bread, olive oil and homemade dukkah. My favourite wine was from here. A 2019 sauvignon blanc. I’m not normally a fan of sauvignon, but this one was delicious. I wish I had bought more than just one bottle. Small places like this can sell out fast. My advise – if you like it, buy it. You might not get another chance!
After a scenic drive through the country side, we arrive at Oak Estate Wines It is run by and Austrian couple and their wines have a European taste to them. The land in this area was no good for growing crops or raising stock, but it was discovered to be the perfect place for growing grape vines. A platter of delectable treats was included with this wine tasting. The burnt butter mousse was outstanding.
Back into the van and onto the next place. I am quite please we are such a small tour group today (just the 4 of us and our driver Mark) it means there is lots of room on the back seats for our quickly growing collection of wines!
We arrive at Unison Vineyard, our 4th stop and by now I am struggling to walk in a straight line. I have tasted so many wines! We are each asked what type of wines we like and our host tailors the tastings for each of us. We are told a bit about the technicalities of corking wine, but to be honest, I am far too happy to take any of it in.
I leave Unison Vineyard with a few more bottles of wine feeling very merry. We have one last stop – Roosters Brewery . I am not a fan of beer, so opt to have a cider instead. Daniel gets the beer tasting paddle. I am not sure how he managed it, they were very generous servings. Paired with some hot chips; it was a great way to finish off the tour.
Hawkes Bay produces some excellent wines. With Frankly Tours we were able to sample a huge range of wines in a fun and hassle free manor. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend Frankly Tours, it was the perfect way to spend the afternoon. To end the day, Daniel and I decide to head back to Mission Estate for dinner.
We have an early start the next morning. I’m talking on the road by 6am early. My lovely husband forgot that he had someone coming over to our house in the morning to interview him about his turbo motorbike!!
The advantage to this early morning car ride home is that it’s much cooler and I get to see a sunrise – even if it is from the car window.