One of the true pleasures of a relaxing summer holiday in New Zealand is definitely taking some time to visit wineries and sample the best they have to offer. Many local vineyards also have restaurants or cafes so you can enjoy fresh and delicious food with your choice of wines and some even offer accommodation.
Something different from the wineries of France and Italy, or from California's Napa Valley, NZ's wineries have a distinctly kiwi flavour.
If you are staying in Hanmer Springs, there are plenty of excursions you can take to taste (and buy) the region's best.
Waiau River Estate, 2254 Mouse Point Road, SH7, Hanmer Springs 7334
Situated with a view across the Waiau River, Waiau River's first grapes were planted in 2004, with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. This is the closest winery to Hanmer Springs and a very easy drive if you have limited time.
The Tasting Room restaurant is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday and booking are advised. A full gourmet menu is available from 10am - 3pm with some lighter options until closing time. Wine tasting are available from the Cellar Door daily apart from Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 10am and 4pm.
Mt Beautiful Wines, Two Rivers Gallery/Cafe and Tasting Room, Cheviot
Established in 2004, Mt Beautiful has 80 hectares of stunning wine country, producing award winning wines that are gaining international recognition.You can drop into the tasting room at the Two Rivers Gallery and Cafe in Cheviot (we recommend you give them all the support you can at the moment!) and sample their wares.
They are best known for the Mt Beautiful Riesling, as long with their Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc. Wines from the Mt Beautiful 2104 vintage won silver medals at the recent "Rodeo Uncorked" competition in Houston Texas, and earlier this year picked up two golds (2014 Sav Blanc and 2015 Riesling) and two silvers at the Lost Angeles International Wine competition.
Black Estate Winery, 614 Omihi Road, Waipara Valley
Black Estate is a name that is becoming increasingly well known, not just in the Canterbury region but further afield. As well as producing some award winning wines, Black's has also staked a claim in the Christchurch rebuild, with vines planted on top of the C1 Cafe in Tuam Street. (The former Post Office building also has its own bee hives to ensure the vines are properly fertilised!)
The tasting room and eatery in Omihi Road are well worth a visit, with some of the best local produce on offer. Black Estate produces organic, biodynamic wines that make the most of the local soils and climate. They currently have 24 hectares planted in Pinot Noir, Riesling, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc.
Waipara Hills - Mud House Cafe and Winery, 780 Glasnevin Road (SH 1) , Waipara, North Canterbury
If you're driving to Hanmer Springs via the State Highway north of Christchurch, you will notice the striking Mud House Cafe and Winery building now owned by Waipara Hills wines on the right hand side of the road just before Waipara itself. This is a wonderful spot to not only stop to sample the vintages, but also for lunch, or to enjoy a concert in the vines.
Waipara Hills hosts a variety of events and concerts, especially in New Zealand summer (December and January).
Pegasus Bay, 263 Stockgrove Rd, Waipara
Perhaps one of the best known wineries in the Waipara region - for its wines as well as the restaurant, is Pegasus Bay, owned and operated by the very accomplished Donaldson family.
All wines are made with estate grown fruit from the Waipara Valley vineyard, using traditional sustainable viticulture methods, low crop levels and minimal handling of fruit. The results are outstanding wines produced under the Pegasus Bay and Main Divide labels.
Wines include Sauvignon Semillon, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Merlot Cabernet. For something extra special, there is also the Pegasus Bay Reserve collection.
In addition to the fabulous wines produced from this winery, the restaurant has received awards year after year - for nine years in a row being judged winner of the Casual Dining category at the Cuisine Good Food Awards - complemented in 2016 by also receiving two hats!
The restaurant will be closed over Christmas 2016 from December 23rd to January 2nd. It is best to telephone 03 3146869 ext 1 to make a restaurant reservation, especially if it’s a weekend or holiday, but feel free to pop in and taste their range of wine any time.
Terrace Edge Wines, 328 Georges Road, Waipara
Terrace Edge is an organic vineyard and olive grove receiving rave reviews for its award winning Liquid Geography Riesling, along with the Syrah and Pinot Noir. They also grow Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc.
Since olives often thrive in the same conditions that help make great wine, this winery has branched out into growing olives - and very successfully! Terrace Edge Olive Oil has a herbaceous, grassy flavour with intense peppery charateristics and was awarded Canterbury's first ever Gold Medal, for the Terrace Edge Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Over the holiday period they are open every day from December 27th to Sunday January 8th, except for New Year's Day. 11.am - 4.30pm. On Mondays to Wednesdays, phone ahead if you plan to visit.
Greystone Wines, 376 Omihi Road, Waipara
Established in 2004 on the limestone and clay slopes of Waipara, all grapes are estate grown, vinified and bottled so that the Greystone team can ensure complete control in every aspect of the winegrowing process.
All the vineyards are certified sustainable and managed with an eye to ensuring great fruit across all blocks. The rolling slopes of Omihi allow them a mix of clay, limestone and greensands so each of the 9 separate blocks can express itself uniquely.
Ex-Penfolds Vineyard Manager Nick Gill and winemaker Dom Maxwell established 40 hectares of vines in nine blocks across the total 150ha. At the top slopes are planted their most prestigious blocks with Erin's Block for Chardonnay and Brothers Reserve for Pinot Noir.
Together they've won high praise for their Pinot Noir, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. In 2011 Dom Maxwell was awarded Winemaker of the Year by Winestate magazine and more recently Decanter magazine named Greystone one of the "Top 20 Wineries in New Zealand".
Greystone don't only sell wine, they also produce verjuice, which apparently is great frozen into ice cubes for adding to your summer gin and tonic! Open Monday - Sunday, 11.00am - 4pm.