10 New Zealand Wineries to Visit

Those I missed and must go back to!


Having just returned from New Zealand, I have much to put to paper. With visits to almost every main wine producing region in the country and tasting notes for over 400 wines, it is going to be a lot of work!

The first things to address are those wineries which I did not visit and most wish to, so I’ve selected my top 10. Each makes a wine that really resonated with me, things that provided me with great enjoyment and wonderful surprises through my most recent trip.

On my next trip to New Zealand, this will become my list of first wineries to stop at. This list is not done with rankings, it is simply a list of wines to try!

What are your favorite New Zealand wineries? Let me know!

Black Estate – Waipara

Waipara is a region we’ll be hearing a lot about in the coming years, and wineries like Black Estate are the reason why. I tasted three distinctive wines from Black Estate: a lovely, ripe yet balanced if decidedly New World Chardonnay, a Riesling that was peppery and like licking rocks (a good thing in my book), and a set of Pinot Noirs. The Pinots were also done a “New World” style, but they were packed with delicious, rich fruit and some toasty new oak. All in all, a very compelling set of wines!

Black Estate

614 Omihi Road, Waipara
PO Box 13280
Christchurch 8141
New Zealand
Phone 03 310 6930


Mountford was another name new to me and after tasting these wines, I have to admit feeling some satisfaction in discovering that this is a bio-dynamic estate. Using Burgundian techniques, Mountford produces a very precise and fresh Chardonnay that layers gentle notes of barrel fermentation over crisp orchard fruit. It is subtle and fairly compelling. The Pinot Noirs here are not afraid of oak, so you better not be either. They ooze minerally, musky fruit that should develop compelling complexity with time. I know I want to find out.

Mountford Vineyards

434 Omihi Road, State Highway 1,
Waipara, RD3, Amberley 7483,
North Canterbury, New Zealand.
Phone 64 3 314 6199
Fax 64 3 314 6099

The Crater Rim – Waipara

The Crater Rim had some issues in the near past due to a winery fire disrupting operations, but they are now back in top form producing a really distinctive set of wines. Their slightly unusual Sauvignon Blanc is melony and fruit-driven, with less overt green character than one might expect from a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. The Pinot Gris takes things even further in the richness department. Decidedly Alsatian in character, it is rich and spicy with plenty of orange and bees wax tones.

While this Pinot Gris is really top notch, the standouts here were the red wines. A classic peppercorn- and game-filled Syrah was attractive, but the Pinot Noirs, bright and fresh with a fine balance of fruit, soil and herb, really rang my bell.

The Crater Rim

P.O. Box 39077
Christchurch 8545
Phone 64 27 442 2027

Rippon Estate – Central Otago

Rippon is not some up and comer winery, but I was unable to visit them on this go around. Their wines have always been top notch and their balanced, elegant Pinot Noirs are emerging as some of the most terroir-driven Pinots from Central Otago. The Riesling shares many of these traits. Fine and austere, it sings with mineral-driven fruit and dances on the palate with real cut and energy.

Rippon Estate

246 Mt Aspiring Rd, Wanaka
New Zealand 9343
Tel:  +64(03 443 8084
Fax:  +64(0)3 443 8034

Maude – Central Otago

Maude is a new producer for me, but one taste of the 2007 Pinot Noir was enough to convince me that I needed to learn more about this relatively new operation. The sappy and bright Pinot Noirs, including the recently released 2010, are spicy and fresh with a firm texture and innate sweetness that really sets them apart. The dry and austere Riesling has fine, savory depth and reveals great potential.

Maude Wines

9 Connell Terrace · Wanaka · Central Otago ·
New Zealand 9343
Phone: ++64 3 443 2959
Fax: ++64 3 443 2960

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  • Snooth User: Bob N
    373985 97

    In no particular order our favorites are: Mt Difficulty, Felton Road, Carrick, Akarua, Peregrine, Villa Maria, Neudorf, Fromm, Escaprment, Martinborough, Te Kairanga and Schubert. Only problem is trying to find some of the single vineyard PN or some of their more unusual varietals here in the US. :-(

    Feb 09, 2012 at 12:35 PM

  • Snooth User: Guanaruman
    771847 27

    Stonyridge on Waiheke Island produces some of the best NZ reds thats not Pinot. Outstanding resturant.

    Feb 09, 2012 at 1:02 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 233,904

    Nice list Bob.
    I visited Neudorf, Felton Road and Escarpement on this visit so they didn't make this list but they are among my favorites too!

    Feb 09, 2012 at 2:03 PM

  • I offer up that you give Destiny Bay on Waiheke and Gillman in Matakana tries, too. For my taste, they each produce the best left- and right-bank (respectively) Bordeaux blends in New Zealand. Destiny Bay has likely the most state-of-the-art facility in NZ along with an impeccable palate while Gillman has a much smaller operation with a passionate winemaker who - at a very young age - has likely forgotten more about making beautiful wine than many others here have ever known.

    (And, in my humble opinion, Stonyridge *used* to produce some good reds.)

    Feb 09, 2012 at 2:18 PM

  • Snooth User: LTCmike
    577695 35

    I will be traveling to NZ in May and will be on the ground for a month to pursue Tahr, fly fish, hike and of course visit kiwi wine country. I would appreciate any addtional reccommendations for places and things to do. Does any one know much about an area called gravels?

    Feb 09, 2012 at 2:27 PM

  • Snooth User: bregman
    511865 11

    You've left of Amisfield! They make a great Central Otago Pinot Noir and have a fantastic bistro/tasting room.

    Feb 09, 2012 at 2:46 PM

  • Snooth User: kauri
    135090 6

    The Gimblett Gravels in the Hawkes Bay, about four hours drive north of Wellington (capital city) is famous world wide for its red Bordeaux varietal and blend wines, Syrah and Chardonnay. Jancis Robertson says her favourite Gimblett Gravels wine is Trinity Hill's "The Gimblett" 2006 and said it is also the wine made in the greatest quantity with the lowest price. Cost NZ $34 which is about the same in US $. Gimblett Gravels wines are the stuff of Bottle Shock!
    There is another Gravels area called Ohau (pronounced "or hoe") Gravels and NZ's newest wine region about an hour and quarter north of Wellington. The Ohau Wines vineyard produces outstanding Pinot Gris, a distinctive Sauvignon Blanc and lately a tasty Pinot Noir, all wines around $20 a bottle. I work for them and you can contact me for travel tips at chrisandsandra@gmail.com

    Feb 09, 2012 at 3:20 PM

  • Snooth User: cobb
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    502186 34

    @Bob N - Our single vineyard Pinot is available in the US. It's called Cobblestone 'Te Muna' and our estate is in Martinborough directly across Te Muna Road from Escarpment. Check it out! http://www.cobblestonewine.com

    Feb 09, 2012 at 3:26 PM

  • A friend of mine lives in the Marborough region of New Zealand and I was fortunate enough to travel there with my hubby on a business trip that he went on. Fromm has a fantastic Pinot Noir we loved, Wairau River and Highfield Estate had some Riesling varieties that were outstanding. New Zealand. It was one of the most beautiful places and certainly among the very best wines we have ever purchased, not to mention a highly recommended trip!

    Feb 09, 2012 at 3:37 PM

  • Snooth User: Lee Gillis
    1035286 9

    I am partial to Waipara Springs Premo Reserve Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as well as Aorangi Road Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc. but I am a little biased.
    Lee Gillis T2 Import Export Canada Inc.

    Feb 09, 2012 at 4:35 PM

  • They are so many nice vineyard in New Zealand, But few of my favorite, Trinity Hill produce a wonderful syrah "Hommage", Craggy Range lovely Sauvignon blanc, Escarpement great white but amazing Pinot, Clos Henri and Dog Point lovely Sauvignon Blanc, Rippon and Felton Road so great area was Central Otago.

    Feb 09, 2012 at 4:35 PM

  • Snooth User: arendg
    29766 1

    I am not one to contribute marginal wines to these forums but I will endorse one wine-Wooing Tree-somewhere east of Queenstown. an absolute killer bottle of Pinot Noir that is a prize winner wherever it goes. Unfortunately no distribution in the U.S.

    Feb 09, 2012 at 5:13 PM

  • Snooth User: ROB JONES
    809229 4

    from the UK's perspective the wines in NZ seem almost universally over rated - hype over substance and at ridiculous prices. The only wine we had at a number of the so called best wineries in NZ from the top of NI to the tip of SI was Te Whau on Waihiki - a Syrah and it was delicious - but only 5 barrels were made and it can only be bought at the restaurarant . Yes g there and have the wine but what use is that to the wine trade? Ok fine enjoy the wine in NZ enjoy being a tourist but if you are serious about wine it still has to be the old world european wine that rules the world.

    Feb 09, 2012 at 6:53 PM

  • Snooth User: jennym
    183722 9

    While in Christchurch during winter 2010, we found a great little restaurant...and Mt. Difficulty Roaring Meg Pinot Noir....so good we went back the next day for more.

    Feb 09, 2012 at 11:27 PM

  • Snooth User: jennym
    183722 9

    While in Christchurch during winter 2010, we found a great little restaurant...and Mt. Difficulty Roaring Meg Pinot Noir....so good we went back the next day for more.

    Feb 09, 2012 at 11:27 PM

  • One that you can not leave off your list is Esk Valley. Esk Valley "The Terraces" a blend of Merlot, Cab Franc and Malbec is a wine that is up with the best on the planet.

    Feb 10, 2012 at 3:06 AM

  • Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay is without any doubt one of the five best Chardonnays outside France. It is a very charming place to visit and don´t miss a picknick in the garden sipping their fantastic wines!

    Feb 10, 2012 at 3:29 AM

  • Matua.... & Shingle Peak - Chardonnay or sauvignon Blanc?? How could you miss such fine wine.... Well each to their own taste I guess, right? But how about Oyster Bay? They have a great Chardonnay. Check these out next.

    Feb 10, 2012 at 4:12 AM

  • Snooth User: whauptman
    864967 2

    Anyone mention Hunter's? Always a fine product. Their Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris are marvels.

    Feb 10, 2012 at 6:21 AM

  • Snooth User: Brags
    602865 13

    In Central Otago.....need to taste the Felton Road, Mt. Difficulty and Mt. Edward wines. North of Auckland, visit Kumeu River

    Feb 10, 2012 at 4:38 PM

  • Snooth User: vinosofy
    746251 16

    From a fellow writer - the Waitaki (NZ's newest region) adds minerality to your list of attributes - the limesone boulders really haunt the wines. It makes an interesting complexity in the aromatics, especially when you get up into the higher (sub-alpine) vineyards of the Hakataramea Valley where the diurnal variation (-12C to high +38C approx). Most interesting is the Italian-influenced Pasquale wine (golds, silvers, trophy in last year) because they are made under the hand of the Italian-born owner Antonio Pasquale whose family have been in wine for centuries. They have dryness and an edge. They own the only winery in the valley. Contact is antonio"at"pasquale.co.nz

    Feb 12, 2012 at 5:02 PM

  • Snooth User: GhostLemur
    303526 118

    It was good to meet you at Climax GDP. Bit surprised you missed Te Mata and Dry River on you tour (but as is always the case with these things I suppose, so many wineries so little time).

    The Dry River Syrah is a thing of age worthy beauty, along with the riesling you mention.
    If you like the Te Mata Awatere, the Coleraine is well recognized as it's big brother and has a history of aging well ('98 is still lovely with a long life ahead of it), not to mention the Bullnose Syrah.
    Also, good choice @vinosofy mentioning Pasquale.

    I bet you're already planning your next trip down-under hehe. When you do look us up and we'll have a glass or 3.
    - Stefan de Medici

    Feb 13, 2012 at 4:45 PM

  • Lived in NZ (married to a Kiwi) in 78-79 when the wine industry was not very advanced and the wine was generally pretty ordinary (in the pejorative Aussie sense). Then a decade or two later i had a taste of something called sauvignon blanc from somewhere called Cloudy Bay. It was as big a revelation as were the big Aussie wines (red and white) I learned to love in my two years there (88-89). Cloudy Bay remains a favourite, as do Craggy Range and our 'house white' Villa Maria. Even 'routine' sauv blancs like Kim Crawford and Nobilo's are really enjoyable, as long as taste trumps cachet - or lack thereof. The good reds are almost impossible to source in SoCal so except for a generic fondness for Martinborough pinot noirs, I can't claim to know any of then well enough/long enough to claim as favourites.

    Feb 17, 2012 at 8:51 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 233,904

    Hey Folks,

    Thanks for all the great comments. I for one have to say that there is a lot more going on New Zealand that we might get to typically taste over here in NYC. I was thrilled to have been able to visit New Zealand and with their wine industry still in its early stages I'm sure you're going to be hearing, and tasting great things from them for years to come.

    Vinosophy, got it and duly noted. Thanks!

    Feb 20, 2012 at 1:18 PM

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