Kiwi celebrity chef Josh Emett was the man behind the barbecue putting the sizzle into a classic New Zealand summer social ritual when New Zealand’s biggest food and wine festival - Hawke’s Bay Food & Wine Classic (FAWC!) - opened this weekend.
Sprawling Cape South Estate, overlooking vineyards, farmlands and the Pacific Ocean east of Napier, was the setting for Emett’s al fresco menu serving up everything local from the Hawke’s Bay lamb to local seafood and award-winning wines.
Running for 10 days each November, F.A.W.C! gathers the east coast region’s finest producers and purveyors into an event-laden feast of indulgence for an expanding audience of hungry locals and visitors (40 per cent out-of-towners).
The 2017 festival launched on Friday night (3.11.2017) offering 30 delicious events at spectacular venues throughout the region, and that was just for the first weekend.
In just six years, F.A.W.C! has grown into one of New Zealand's premier food and wine outings with winter and summer editions, drawing together an amazing series of innovative events across a small region, inspired by enthusiastic local hospitality personalities and the finest produce sourced, fished, foraged and blended into tasteful perfection.
A long-time favourite New Zealand beach holiday destination, Hawke’s Bay’s other visitor attractions include spectacular coastal scenery and a world-renowned collection of Art Deco era architecture.
The so-called ‘fruit bowl of New Zealand’ is a productive region of fertile soils and a pleasant climate, that also claims the crown of oldest wine region in New Zealand – a story that goes back to 1851 when the first vines were planted by Roman Catholic Marist brothers at Mission Estate on the outskirts of Napier. Nearly 170 years later Hawke’s Bay has matured into the country’s second largest wine producer and provedore of an enviable array of other goods from the humble apple, avocadoes and honey, to artisan cheeses, olives, lamb, beef and seafood.
The 2017 Summer F.A.W.C festival (3 – 12 November) is set to serve up the Bay’s bounty in style. Jam-packed with more than 70 exciting events in nearly 50 locations, it offers ample opportunity to tour the region and get a true taste of the terroir.
The world-renowned Art Deco cities of Napier and Hastings host many festival events in restaurants, cafés and special pop-up venues such as the Art Deco Masonic Hotel and Marine Parade Domain.
The picturesque countryside surrounding them is liberally sprinkled with atmospheric venues including notable wineries and the region’s historic agricultural show grounds – home to one of New Zealand’s finest farmers’ markets. Vineyard lunches, olive grove tours and garden parties are just a few ways to enjoy the festival al fresco in spectacular settings.
Other stars in the festival line-up include a raft of New Zealand celebrity chefs and food personalities – an 80-strong cast of food and wine experts presenting special dining events, demonstrations and cooking courses.
The region’s world-class wines will flow throughout the festival, with a bunch of events dedicated specifically to the arts of making and tasting it. With more than 70 wineries, this vine-lined region is the perfect place to discover what the New World has to offer. And while its Bordeaux and Rhone-rivalling reds and knockout Chardonnay continue to lead the charge, varietals such as pinot gris and gewürtztraminer are worth a trial.
Such delectable largesse blends perfectly with a sunny climate to make Hawke’s Bay one of New Zealand’s great food and wine destinations, at any time of year.
A wine tour can take in any of around 30 tasting rooms and more than a dozen cellar door restaurants. In between are country cafés, artisan food factories, fruit stalls and family-friendly attractions, all easily reached from the visitor hubs of Napier and Hastings.
One of the best ways to see the sights is on a bicycle. The Hawke’s Bay Trails – more than 200km of cruisy cycle paths and quiet country roads – offer an almost endless array of routes to suit visitors’ interests and itineraries. It’s a great way soak up beautiful coastal, riverside and rural scenery, with plenty of opportunity to sample the Bay’s delicious bounty along the way.
- F.A.W.C! – Hawke’s Bay’s ‘Food and Wine Classic’ – is a twice-yearly wine and food festival held in November and June.
- The first F.A.W.C. was held in 2012 with 55 events and 3000 tickets. Summer 2017 will present 70-plus events.
- Situated on the east coast of the North Island, Hawke’s Bay is a 5-hour drive from Auckland, two hours from Taupō, and four hours from Wellington.
- The region’s airport has daily flights from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
- Hawke’s Bay is home to the twin cities, Art Deco Napier and Hastings.