Welcome to a new section of WineFolio, and one that many people have been asking for. As you may know I also work a lot in tourism in New Zealand – one of the founding principles of WineFolio was to promote travel to the regions that we talk about in terms of what grows where in New Zealand. I truly believe that if you visit the vineyard where the grapes are grown – see that site – and talk to the people who are part of that growing, making and production – then you’ll have a deeper understanding of what is in your glass.
A few days in a wine region is a superb way to see a part of New Zealand. Often picturesque and filled with delightful food options – farmers markets, cafés and restaurants. And now I can offer suggestions beyond what to do in your short visit, and look at where you might spend the night – preferably overlooking the vineyards where the grapes are farmed.
This section will consist of two parts – one is a section where you’ll see region-by-region a series of listings that all have excellent locations and facilities – often with personal service. Many will offer a wine tour and tasting as part of their accommodation package.
As well as that you’ll find – in this article – my own personal preferences and recommendations. These are places dear to my heart – where I have personally stayed and felt a real connection to the site, and the wines that come from the land. I call these the Best of the Best. I am only starting with two – this will, I think, always be a short list.. and these are the two places that make the cut, so far!
I described a visit to The Landing as “could this be the best new vineyard and tasting experience in New Zealand”.
It’s a beautiful slice of quintessential New Zealand land – rolling hills and deep native bush. Open for visitors for a relaxed stroll through the vines, to taste regional food and award-winning wines in one of the most spectacular vistas imaginable. A stay will feature a pick-up by their private boat ‘Iti Rangi’ from Waitangi, Paihia or Russell, and a cruise across the sparkling waters of the Bay of Islands, heading for the white sands spread out beside the private jetty.
The views from all the properties are mesmerising. Step inside and you’ll find amazing attention to details – surfaces of honed marble, limestone, massive wooden beams and soft leather. Libraries of books, historical artefacts, art and photography. Nooks to explore, to rest, sit and think. I found it therapeutic, to stop and hear the sounds of nature, and be still, amongst it. The stars! Mars appeared above the moon as the kiwi called to each other across the valleys.
Options include The Boathouse down by the private Jetty, or the Vineyard Villa set back into the hillside with views down the vines. Plus more, larger houses, all with options for more, or less, people, as some have ‘suite-style’ areas that can be sectioned out accordingly.
The winery is brand new and features a quite superb Tasting room. The wines are improving year by year – The Landing Syrah won the WineFolio ‘Top 10 Tasting’ of New Zealand Syrah this year, and the Chardonnays, in particular, are fabulous.
This luxury accommodation is set down a quiet road that ends up meandering alongside a gorgeous vineyard (The Supernatural) and plonks you on top of a ridge with views for miles down to the coast at Te Awanga and around to Te Mata Peak.
The Estate consists of the vineyard – which produces amazing natural wines and you can read all about that here >> There’s the main building – Haumoana House, and then three Vineyard Villas. They share the incredible view, a 10 metre swimming pool and a ‘pool house’ which has a sink, bar etc but each property is sufficiently separate from another to ensure quiet privacy. It’s like you’ve teleported yourself into a Tuscan hilltop scene.
It’s a little bit different here though – the main house has a gallery space filled with art, furniture by Apartmento, and photos from Richard Brimer feature throughout. It is a stylish and contemporary set of spaces, but with a distinctly ‘Hawke’s Bay’ vibe – a sense of place (or terroir as they’d say in winemaking). As in the vineyard, they take an organic approach, and are keen supporters of ‘local’. Ask for recommendations – they will direct you to the new, stylish parts of town that only a real local would get to know.
It’s no surprise that Millar Road is in hot demand for small weddings, large family celebrations and other gatherings of people with great taste – you can hire the whole Estate, and they’ll organise catering, so you can have a worry-free time, or you can get to cooking in the sumptuous kitchen yourself and have food out on the expansive lawns outside the main house.
Details are online at http://www.millarroad.co.nz