Top Wineries of the Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Esk Valley Estate

Swing back rustic cellar doors into another era, grapes sourced from Hawkes Bay and Marlborough. Famous for “The Terraces”, a grape variety only released when they produce an exceptional vintage.

Robert Bird first planted grapevines in 1933, although now owned by George Fistonich, founder of Villa Maria estate in Auckland and Marlborough; they ran this estate independently, putting their brand on Esk Valley.

Gimblett Gravel vineyard supplies Esk Valley with grapes famed for becoming one of the most New World terroirs.

While Marlborough supplying them with some of the best Sauvignon Blanc grapes in the world.

Rows of vines slope over the beige landscape, shadowed by trees. Sprawling views over the ocean creates one of the most picturesque winery sites in New Zealand.

Step inside, reach for a glass and be transported to another place.

Aromas of peach, musk and orange citrus, with grapefruit enhancing acidity sparkles to life in the Esk Valley Verdelho 09. The only winery to produce this variety.

Savour the richness the Gimblett Gravels grapes provide of plum, red fruits and dried herbs in the Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec blend.

Notes of stone fruit and characters of grapefruit sing out in the Reserve Chardonnay 06.

But, of course, you cannot by-pass this estate without relishing in the richness of the Terrace range. Grown on a steep, terraced, north-facing hillside, producing a bold dark wine. Planted with Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes. Cherry and blackberry embody the deeply coloured wine.

Created to look like a historic Italian village, a palm-lined drive extends out to the terraced gardens, sitting below the hillside vineyard.

Hatton Estate

Established in 1992 by Michael and Colleen Daymond-King, specialising in creating wine from the 1200 acre Gimblett Gravels region.

Gradually becoming known for producing high quality Bordeaux blends and Syrah. Utilising the sheltered districts some fifteen kilometres from sea, bringing a warmer sea breeze than other regions.

Even though they use the Gimblett Gravels grapes, they too produce some outstanding varieties on their forty acre vineyard.

Most awarded for their Hatton Estate Gimblett Gravels Tahi 2000 by notable wine critics, and the internationally known chef, Gordan Ramsey. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot; first hints of chocolate mixed with vanilla, revving up the palate with bold dark fruits.

While rich black berry fruits, with a long finish explains why they are so well-known for their Syrah.

Bob Campbell from Gourmet Wine Traveller 2007 talks of the blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc in the Reserve 2005, “elegant… with fine ripe blackberry and cedar flavours”.

Or linger on the EC2 Chardonnay 2007 with aromas of grapefruit and mandarin, notes of lime, apple, watermelon and grapefruit lingers on the palate.

It is certainly an enjoyable tasting experience, sipping the wine with the staff, while they give first-hand accounts of what you are drinking.


Lime Rock Wines

A unique experience awaits you as you enter into Lime Rock land. Situated on north-facing limestone hills, creating an elevation of 230-270 metres, resulting in cooler sites.

The ten hectare vineyard is mostly made of Pinot Noir with nine different clones. Parts of the vineyard established on shallower soil providing more elegant wines, while others set in deeper soils, producing more muscular wines.

Rosie Butler with Australian husband, Rodger Tyran, took up the challenge of establishing such an elevated vineyard in 2000. Additionally specialising in Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Merlot and the unusual variety, Grüner Veltliner. A variety mainly planted in Austria, full of exotic tropical fruit notes.

Blessed with a climate similar to Marlborough, they produce exceptional Sauvignon Blanc, the raging sea below producing a cooler area, different from other Hawkes Bay vineyards.

As you climb the slopes, the land lays before you. The Ruataniwha Plains to the Ruahine Ranges stretches out amidst a fine mist that can sometimes be seen floating above the land. Vines sloping down the hill toward the cellar door, plantings of perennial plants scattered about, providing food for beneficial insects.

Bring a picnic, sampling the Ellsgrove gold medal extra virgin olive oil, saffron and gourmet products.

Sip a glass of Pinot Gris 2009; ripe nectarine, peach, ginger, orange peel and spice sending aromatic notes.

Boysenberry, dark red plum fruit with sweet truffle are brought to life in the White Knuckle Pinot Noir 2007.

But there is one Pinot Noir that cannot be missed. Receiving gold in several Australian wine tastings, the Lime Rock Pinot Noir 2008 balances out undertones of plum, cherry, blackberry and wild thyme.

All the while glancing at the stone sculptures that litter the garden, giant oyster and scallop shells from ancient limestone are displayed.



Kim Crawford Wines

Who could have guessed it? Certainly not Kim Crawford, who first started his winery in a small Auckland cottage, extending out to be one of the most well-known New Zealand wineries. Wines found in some of the top international restaurants.

Beginning in 1996, Kim Crawford and his wife Erica began their biggest project; building on crafting wines that were lacking in the market, becoming well-known for their fruit-forward Chardonnay.

Now a virtual vineyard, selecting grapes from Marlborough, Gisborne and other parts of Hawkes Bay, bringing the wines back to the winery to produce some purely organic wines.

You could easily get lost amongst the rows of vines, looking outward to the sea. The backdrop of blue, mixed with grainy green develops the landscape into a mass of vines and nature.

Obtaining numerous awards for their wines, although an emphasis on whites, their reds certainly get a following.

‘Kim’s Favourite’ Pinot Noir small parcels of cherry and plum drift to the nose, while red and black fruit dominate on the tongue.

Aromas of black plum, white plum, berry and currant lingers on the palate from the Hawkes Bay Merlot.

Their Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc supplies intense aromas of gooseberry, passion fruit and citrus flavours.

While a light sweetness of pear, peach and nectarine glisten in the Marlborough Pinot Gris.


Located a kilometre from Havelock North, the distinctive shape of Te Mata Peak in the background, you enter into a 2.8 hectare vineyard that slightly slopes to maximise sun exposure. A paved driveway lined with palm trees across the expansive lawn, violet shoots out from the green. You could be forgiven for thinking you have entered onto someone’s private property, landscaped to create a family-style haven.

In the late ‘90s, Dr. John Loughlin established this boutique vineyard, dedicated to producing classic Bordeaux-style wines, predominately planting Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, later extending it to Syrah.

One of their favourite times of year is February, harvest time. When deck chairs, umbrellas and picnic rugs litter the lawn. Wine tasting, food and entertainment fill the hot summer days.

Only producing reds, they dedicate themselves to producing the very best. The winemaker having worked with Syrah for over a decade.

Zepelin 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon is filled with spice and baked fruits, deepening into dark plums, mocha and cedar.

Damson plums, ground pepper and molasses deepen the seductive wines of the 2002 Syrah.

A particularly sweet number is their 2006 Rosé; made from the intense Cabernet Sauvignon, lightened with berry fruits and sweet toffee, rhubarb characters hint for lingering sweetness.

The soil and sunshine hours of the Hawkes Bay enables wine makers to produce light and sweet white wines, while the red wines deepen in colour and flavour, alluring you to further dapple in their seduction.



Peter Janssen, “150 of New Zealand’s best”, Vineyard Visits, HarperCollins Publishers 2007

Esk Valley Estate, Accessed 13/09/11,

Hatton Estate, Accessed 13/09/11,

Lime Rock Wines, Accessed 13/09/11,

Kim Crawford Wines, Accessed 13/09/11,

Zepelin, Accessed 13/09/11,

Published by sharlene25

Sharlene Almond is the author of the genre-bending Annabella Cordova series, and a New Zealand travel book Journey in little Paradise. She has written a range of health, writing and body language articles; contributing as a guest writer on other blogs. Over the last ten years, Sharlene has attained qualifications in Body Language, Criminology, Journalism, Editing, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Pet Care, and Animal Behaviour. While setting up an online nutritional business, she is studying to specialize in Medicinal Cannabis and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sharlene is also currently editing her second Annabella Cordova novel, with two others in the works. To support her online business, Sharlene sends out a trimonthly newsletter covering health, body language, writing, and even articles centered on health topics for your pet.

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