I've seen my share of steep, rugged, dusty trails but this one is smooth and effortless. With a hint of blackberry and a lingering finish of spice and chocolate.
My journey has delivered me to the North Island's east coast where you can find New Zealand's beautiful, most renowned surf beaches, the first town to see the dawning of a new day (Gisborne), the Art Deco Capital of the World (Napier) and the Hawke's Bay region: the start of the New Zealand Classic Wine Trail! Strap in and get your palates ready because I just hopped on the 240 mile drive (not including the three hour ferry ride between islands) with over 120 cellar door options!
Each region through this stretch, from Hawke's Bay on the central east coast of the North Island to the northern Marlborough region of the South Island, is known for certain varietals. Chardonnay in the Gisborne region? More like Chardon-yay! Syrah in Hawke's Bay? Hoorah for Syrah! Pinot Noir in the Martinborough area? We-know Pinot is fantastic here! How can you beat learning about the land and the burgeoning NZ wine industry through rosé-colored, albeit fuzzy, glasses?
But have no fear my safety-conscious cronies. I spent my tasting time in Hawke's Bay smelling, swirling, and sipping with a bunch of friendly Aussies and Dutch on a wine tour and stumbled to wineries on foot around my digs in Martinborough. No sipping and steering here.
I have posted some pictures of the local winery maps in case you're interested in trying to find a few of these names at home. Some of my picks so far? Kirkpatrick for Chardonnay, Ash Ridge for Syrah, and Alana Estate for Pinot Noir. After an afternoon of tasting, I'm trailing off...
Hei kona ra!
Grapes of the wine varietals at Alana Estate, Martinborough
Vineyards at Salvare Estate, Hawke's Bay
Wine tasting with a lively Aussie and Dutch group
The Gisborne wine region known for Chardonnay
The Hawke's Bay wine region known for Syrah (winery list below)
The Martinborough wine region known for Pinot Noir