Hawke’s Bay: Havelock North to Te Awanga

Te Awanga Cellar Door

Let’s start this section of Hawke’s Bay as though you’re in the centre of Havelock North. You’ve had your breakfast at one of the excellent café options in town, and fuelled by caffeine, you’re ready to plan a day out in the vines. Again, we can recommend cycling around this part of town on the Hawke’s Bay Trails. Luckily you don’t have to go far to get started..

Hawke's bay wine map

Smith and Sheth is a family of wines – which includes Pyramid Valley and Lowburn Ferry as well as wines made locally – like the Howell Vineyard Chardonnay and the Omahu Cantera. Their ethos lends itself to a journey around New Zealand through wine and the way that journey is presented is quite memorable – a definite ‘experience’ that will leave a lasting impression. 

Smith & Sheth Studio experience

You enter an ‘oenotech’ called the Heretaunga Studio, a cool, dark space that is fitted out like a 5-star Hotel, and are treated to an audio-visual presentation, tastings of new wines from barrels, and samples of really top tier wines. You’ll find them in the Village Exchange buildings at 4 Te Aute in Havelock North, and there’s also a Village Cellar Door offering flights of wines, small plates, and wine by the glass (or bottle) from 1-4pm Weds to Sunday. In the later afternoon, after 4pm, the space turns into a Wine Lounge – perfect for arelaxed evening of fine wine if you don’t want to have a formal dinner somewhere.

Smith & Sheth Studio

As well known perhaps for their range of exquisite ‘retreat’ style accommodation as their wines, Black Barn also have a unique ‘Growers Market’ open every Saturday morning in summer, from 9-12am; a Bistro with a reputation for excellent fine dining using local ingredients.

Black Barn Kitchen

Add in the ‘Kitchen’ store, filled with produce grown no more than 20km from the door, and you have a venue you won’t be rushing through in a hurry. Did we mention the wine? Stop by for a tasting of their, often exclusive, Cellar Door offerings every day from 10am to 4pm.

 The ‘trend’ for rose is no longer a ‘trend’ of course – the Black Barn version is made from Merlot grown in front of one of the cutest of the accommodation offerings – Rush Cottage. Or go for a gutsy red – Tempranillo isn’t grown everywhere, but here it produces a lovely earthy red that ages well. The vineyard is well signposted and is on Black Barn Road (I know..). Ph: 06 877 7985. www.blackbarn.com

Right nearby, Te Mata Estate is the maker of one of the most prestigious wines in New Zealand – Coleraine: New Zealand’s ‘first Growth’ wine as it were. This famous ‘Bordeaux-blend’ wine can often dominate sales in the secondary market at Fine Wine auctions.

Even in this region, Te Mata holds a special place – with wines having been made here for over 120 years, and have been winning medals since the early 1900s. Tastings and Tours are available every day during summer, although you’ll need to book for a tour – Ph: 06 877 4399. Of course Coleraine is the flagship wine, but there are plenty of options that will appeal for a tasting. How about Zara an aromatic Viognier, or Bullnose, their well-regarded Syrah?

Another label that I’m not familiar is in this area – Akarangi. It’s a small producer – under 3 hectares of vines, using a traditional basket press method. At 103 River Road, just past the entrance to the Tukituki Loop cycle path, they are open 10am to 6pm in Summer. Website is www.akarangi.co.nz.

Craggy Range

Hang a right at the junction, and at 253 Waimarama Road, on the outer edges of Havelock North, is one of the undoubted stars of the region – Craggy Range. Tucked under the escarpment of Te Mata Peak, and with an outstanding spread of offerings – Restaurant, Cellar Door, Accommodation, plus the winery of course. Cellar Door is open 10-6 in summer, and 11-5pm in winter and you can choose a level of tasting experiences. The restaurant is recognised as one of the finest in the country; and there’s a range of private dining spaces, and the venue is well known for events and functions. Probably best known for some of our country’s boldest reds – Le Sol (syrah) and Sophia (Merlot blend), but the whites are also worth investigating – my favourite would be the Kidnappers Vineyard Chardonnay. Ph: 06 873 7126. www.craggyrange.com

Backtracking slightly, head north again, and you’ll soon find yourself at one wine label that has really caught our eye this year – Askerne. You’ll find the Cellar Door at 267 Te Mata Mangateretere Road on the outskirts of Havelock North.

They currently offer a ‘make your own picnic’ option when you visit – made from their fridge of gourmet treats. Open Friday, Saturday and Sundays, and you can pre-book to ensure a Tasting is available when you visit. Call 06 877 2089. 

Our review of their new ‘icon’ chardonnay called The Archer gave it 95/100 points. We thought it one of the best chardonnays in Hawke’s Bay. They have a range of varietals, so you’ll be spoilt for choice – maybe go for something less obvious like the Semillon, or a Viognier?

If you’re cycling, you have a lovely ride ahead of you – following the lines of the Tukituki River towards the coast. It’s an equally nice drive, of course.

Beach House wines were founded by local fella Chris Harrison – known for Roosters Brewhouse amongst other things – and using the considerable talents of Bryce Edmonds – see our Zaria wine reviews here – to help with the wine. We’ve reviewed their Gewurztraminer here > https://winefolio.co.nz/?p=1459. Try their trophy winning Riesling if you can track one down.

Head into Te Awanga, and at 86 Clifton Road, Elephant Hill was one of the first Cellar Doors in New Zealand to be created around the concept of a vineyard restaurant. 

The Cellar Door is operating tastings from 11am to 5pm on Thursdays to Sundays. The tasting area is beautiful, with views out over the coast to Cape Kidnappers.

You can try a tasting flight of four of the current ‘Estate’ , ‘Reserve’ or ‘Icon’ wines, depending on your preference. The option that really catches my eye though is the ‘Flight and Bite‘ with 4 specifically chosen wines that have been matched with the perfect appetiser to highlight the perfect food and wine pairing.

Elephant Hill table

Elephant Hill have recently introduced a range of wines that best reflect their vineyards – this range of vineyard expressions are named ‘Sea‘ for Te Awanga, ‘Stone‘ for Gimblett Gravels and ‘Earth‘ for Bridge Pa. I was taken through the range at the Cellar Door with Chardonnay and Syrah varietals, and I’d recommend trying one of the Chardonnays (funny that). Another wine to look out for is ‘Le Phant Rouge’ which is one of the most under-rated Hawke’s Bay Merlot blends you’ll find. I reviewed it here > https://winefolio.co.nz/?p=1324. Elephant Hill also have a range of ‘icon’ wines that are heading towards world class drinking – the ‘Salome’ Chardonnay, and ‘Airavata’ Syrah are phenomenal.

The restaurant is now also back up and running – for lunch Thurs to Monday from midday and evenings Thurs to Saturday from 6pm. Ph: 06 873 0400. www.elephanthill.co.nz.

At 194 Clifton Road you’ll find the rather wonderfully rustic “Red Shed” of Clearview estate, established by one of Hawke’s bay’s legends Tim Turvey, with Helma van den Berg, in the late 1980s, taking over the historic original Vidal no.2 vineyard.

This family-owned and run vineyard is home to some of the best wines New Zealand has to offer. Taking out 2nd and 3rd place in our Top 10 Tasting of Chardonnay with the ‘Reserve’ and ‘Three Rows’ Chardonnays was no surprise, and I would recommend trying these two if you visit. Equally delicious are their reds – try the spicy, complex ‘Old Olive Block’ Bordeaux blend – perfect if you’re having a hearty meal. As good a place as any to stop for lunch – the restaurant has hosted visitors for 3 decades, offering seasonal Mediterranean-inspired menus.

They’re open just for Tastings too, of course – Thurs to Sundays 10am to 4pm – call 06 875 0150 to check the latest hours. If Tim is in the house, take time for a yarn – he’s a wonderfully engaging character, very generous with his time and hospitality.

Just up the road (literally) is the Te Awanga winery that Rod McDonald founded after setting out on his own path following his years at Villa Maria. Now 100% organic across the company, and the vineyards at the coast offer up the Chardonnay, Merlot and Sav you could have a try of at the Cellar Door. 

Te Awanga Estate wines

The Trademark chardonnay featured well in our Top 10 Tasting, but they also do a range of this great variety including boundary-pushing one-off limited editions that the company is getting a reputation for. Don’t forget the Syrah though – it’s one of the best made ones in the country, and at WineFolio, although we love most of what’s on offer here – the Merlot-Cab Franc is awesome – we think the Syrah is this label’s best varietal.

At the Cellar Door you can grab some great casual food – think pie-and-wine combo in winter, or a platter and/or pizzas in summer. In winter the Cellar Door was open weekends 12-5pm, but give them a call on 06 875 0553 to check the current hours? Address is 376 Parkhill Road, and you can check them out online at www.teawangaestate.co.nz.

Segars Vineyard

Nearly at the end of your day now, and although not offering any Cellar Door facilities – but definitely 100% worthy of your attention to look for their wines online at Millarroad.co.nz/hawkes-bay-vineyards/TheSupernatural or at greatlittlevineyards.com, and in restaurants. All the wines are different, but outstanding – with real personality. We talked to the people behind The Supernatural Wine Co. earlier in the year.

Millar road vineyard

Going hand in hand with the wine company, and operated by the same family is Millar Road accommodation. As their website says this is “Seriously Stylish Accommodation”. WineFolio made the excellent choice to establish base here during our visit in June and were certainly not disappointed at our choice. We’d heartily recommend that this is where you end your day out (and spend a couple more nights). You directly overlook the beautiful vineyard and the slopes down to the coast; and properties share the 15m pool. Ask for a try of the house wine! Ph: 06 875 1977. www.millarroad.co.nz. 83 Millar Road, Hastings.

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