Wineries in the Bay of Plenty
Hidden in the small town of Bethlehem in Tauranga, a gem awaits to be discovered. You could be forgiven for underestimating the petite art deco winery, but once you have stepped within the grounds, you can see why it has been acclaimed as one of the most stylish and attractive winery buildings in New Zealand.
The twenty acres of landscaped gardens, two underground barrel cellars and other little intricacies are only but a few things to do at Mills Reef.
Getting their grapes from the blessed Hawkes Bay region, they put their own spin on things.
Their Elspeth Cabernet Franc fills your senses with berry and spice flavours. The Elspeth One is of exceptional quality; varietals of Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Syrah; bursting with berry and spice flavours, creating a complex pleasure for your palate.
Their Reserve Viognier 2010 blushes with intense peach and apricot aromas, hints of pear at the end. The Reserve Syrah 09 deepens flavours of blackcurrant, plum, boysenberry and chocolate.
The Mills Reef Riesling 04 provides a cool and crisp wine, filled with lemon and lime flavours.
But their littles collection has got to top it. Littles 2010 is a blend of Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc; honeysuckle, poached pear and ripe nectarine, on the nose sherbet candy floss invades your senses.
Recline in the restaurant; crunching on fresh breads, salmon, seafood, fresh produce coupled with complex culinary innovations, looking out across to the Kaimai Ranges.
The terraced dining area extends out to the outdoor area with lush green grounds, palm trees shading the courtyard, and bits of areas perfect for picnicking while enjoying their delicate flavourful wines.
This place is perfect for corporate or social gatherings; assembling in the Tasting Room, Barrel room, Vine room or the age wine cellar with feature lighting, perfect for cocktail parties.
All the way from Germany, Horst Hillerich come to New Zealand, falling in love with the place, and Wendy, buying a property in 1989 to establish the winery.
High above the Ohinemuri River, overlooking the Karangahake gorge, at the southern end of the Coromandel Ranges; the river winding below rocky outcrops and trees extending upward toward the sky.
Although sourced from the popular Gisborne, Hawkes Bay and Marlborough regions, they create their own unique wines.
Originally designed as a hayloft, the now established tasting room crafts an old-fashioned wooden arena.
Their Gewurztraminer is filled with perfumed aromas of ginger, lychee, musk and rose blossom. While their Taniwha Syrah provides a rich palate of plum, dark berry and cassis flavours.
Their Sauvignon Blanc sparkles to life with gooseberry, lime and passionfruit.
At first glance you could easily think you have travelled back in time to the little house on the prairie. The Latvian-style building’s wood glistens under the sun. Stepping inside a classic log home with a chapel roof, the smooth panelling creating a cosy feel. The shutter windows opening wide to allow the hint of fruit aromas to waft through the winery.
The restaurant modelled out of what used to be the stables; the courtyard dining room with a little enclave, surrounded by petite gardens, music drifting around you. The European influence is particularly strong with the Mediterranean food wafting through.
The Bay of Plenty provides plenty of diverse flavours to rev up the taste buds, ripe fruits that will delight any wine lover.
Peter Janssen, “150 of New Zealand’s best”, Vineyard Visits, HarperCollins Publishers 2007
Mills Reef, Accessed 08/09/11, www.millsreef.co.nz
Ohinemuri Estate, Accessed 08/09/11, www.ohinemuri.co.nz