Of course you’d expect to taste great wine in NZ. But an innovative new batch of luxury offerings lifts the country’s wine experiences to a new level.
New Zealand is best known for its rugged mountain peaks, deeply carved fiords and sweeping white sand beaches. Now this land of natural contrasts is home to luxury wine experiences in locations as diverse as the sides of cliffs and beside picture-perfect lakes.
Craggy Range, Hawke’s Bay
The two-day Craggy Range Ultimate Wine Tour has been tailored for four people with a no-holds-barred approach to luxury travel. It begins with a helicopter tour over Craggy Range vineyards with head winemaker Matt Stafford, who guides the small group as they view vines and the region’s natural landmarks from the air, including Tuki Tuki Valley, the Te Awanga coast and Cape Kidnappers. Then it’s back to the winery for a personalised tasting and blending session to create your own wine to take home. The experience can be mixed and matched with a bespoke food and wine event, which begins in the garden and culminates in a personalised three-course meal at Craggy Range’s Terrôir Restaurant. Food is prepared from a guided food gathering with chef Andrew Saxon. Guests stay in the luxurious four-bedroom lodge and can also fly-fish, walk up Te Mata Peak and play a few rounds of golf.
Its warm maritime climate makes Hawke’s Bay comfortable to visit year-round, even on chilly winter mornings when the sun is shining and the cool air has chilled the air temperatures. Fly into Napier, hire a car and explore this area, which is New Zealand’s most diverse wine region and home to top wineries producing quality chardonnay, merlot and sauvignon blanc.
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, Hawke’s Bay
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is a 30-minute drive from Napier on the North Island’s east coast but a world away, with its dedication to high-end luxury experience. This is a special place, not only because it reveals panoramic views of New Zealand’s wild east coast at its best, but also because it’s home to just a handful of individual private cottages, so few people can stay at once. There’s a particular focus on food and wine here. Wine experiences range from wine tastings and appreciation classes in The Farm’s own cellars to full-day excursions exploring the cellars of some of Hawke’s Bay’s best wineries. One-off wine events are a highlight, too: this year, acclaimed winery Felton Road is the focus of a showcase weekend (29 Sept – 1 Oct), with winemaker Blair Walter hosting vertical tastings and gourmet dinners featuring matching Felton Road wines.
Fly into Napier and hire a car to explore. Visit two of the oldest continuously working wineries in New Zealand – Church Road in Taradale (see the Roman vinous artefacts in its cellar museum) and Mission Estate. Shop at Havelock North and try the deliciously innovative Malo restaurant.
Cloudy Bay, Marlborough
If eating freshly harvested oysters, taking a private helicopter tour over the Marlborough Sounds and foraging for your own food appeals, then the Cloudy Bay Winery’s Forage experience is for you. The two-day event for four to 10 people was inspired by an international media event to provide an insight into what makes this iconic winery and its vineyards tick. In between food foraging, there are private vineyard tours, wine tastings, sashimi tastings of local salmon and lunch on the Marlborough Sounds on the way to Tio Point oyster farm to harvest shellfish fresh from the sea. It also includes a private barrel tasting and blending session at the globally renowned Cloudy Bay Winery – one of the first in New Zealand to make sauvignon blanc. The event finishes with The Forage dinner, created from the produce collected.
Fly into Blenheim, at the heart of New Zealand’s biggest wine region, Marlborough. Book Forage at Cloudy Bay and all your travel details, transfers and details will be taken care of.
This private, individualised wine experience can be added to by a stay at Dog Point Vineyard’s The Bell Tower, which offers boutique accommodation with outstanding views across Marlborough’s Wairau Valley.
Brancott Estate Heritage Centre, Marlborough
Perched above Brancott Estate Wines, Marlborough’s first modern vineyard, Brancott Estate Heritage Centre overlooks not only the country’s largest wine region, it has vistas to the North Island. With one of the most outstanding vineyard restaurants in the country, Brancott specialises in fresh regional produce and wine tastings including wines only available at the cellar door. There is an exclusive bespoke private dining room catering for up to 18 guests, or a wine tasting tailored to your tastes. Take a vineyard cycling tour or up the splendour with a helicopter flight over the vineyards followed by a wine tasting. A premium wine tasting experience features Brancott’s top-flight wines, led by one of the estate’s experts.
From Auckland or Wellington, fly into Blenheim, at the heart of New Zealand’s biggest wine region, Marlborough. The Brancott Estate is on the outskirts of Blenheim.
Stay nearby in the newly opened five-star Marlborough Lodge, a stately residence set in expansive heritage gardens or cruise out on the Marlborough Sounds on the MV Tarquin.
Amisfield Winery, Queenstown
Paddock to plate is the philosophy of Amisfield Winery’s new food forage experience and its journey of discovery into Central Otago.
It began in April this year when Amisfield Bistro chef Vaughan Mabee led a team from the restaurant into Otago’s great outdoors to source flora and fauna for a unique paddock-to-plate dining experience – accompanied by the best of Amisfield’s wines, of course. Since then, local cooking students have also indulged and now the wilderness forage has grown into a private hands-on experience for visitors to the region. Needless to say, bookings are essential to indulge in this individualised, exclusive, behind-the-scenes experience. And it all ends up with a glass or two of Central Otago pinot noir – the grape that makes up almost 80 per cent of the region’s vineyards.
Fly into Queenstown and hire a car to drive to Amisfield, on the shores of Lake Hayes, which is 25 minutes from the airport.
Advance bookings are essential and can be organised by phone or email.