5 Top Hawkes Bay NZ Winery Restaurants

5 Top  Hawkes Bay NZ Winery Restaurants
A meal without wine is just re-fuelling the body, and visiting a winery to taste gets you only half the a story, but when a winery has an onsite restaurant then all the senses are engaged and wine can be properly showcased.

Some of New Zealand’s best wineries have restaurants and some of New Zealand’s best restaurants are in wineries, and the following are the best of both in Hawke’s Bay.

Hawke’s Bay wine region is on the south east coast of North Island where alluvial gravel soils and a moderate climate combine to create elegant red wines.

Craggy Range’s wines have an international reputation and at their restaurant ‘Terroir’ one can sit outside with the jagged peaks of the mountain range depicted on their label reflected in a lake below you. A range of wines, including their most expensive, can be had by the glass or in carafes of 250 & 500 ml and library wines are available in bottles, magnums and larger.

The menu features local meats and vegetables and changes with the seasons. An unchanging standard is their famous crispy fried potatoes with herbs and garlic.

Diners are offered a complimentary wine tasting in the next door ultra-modern tasting room staffed by some of the most on-the-ball pourers I encountered.

Mission Estate, on the outskirts of Napier, is New Zealand’s oldest continuously working winery, started and still owned (though no longer operated) by a order of catholic monks. One can dine under a canopy of vines on a terrace behind the historic two storey wooden mansion looking out over Napier to the sea beyond, and feeling one has slipped back in time to a more gracious era.

Neighbouring Church Road is another historic New Zealand winery. The food is truly exceptional with an exciting modern light touch but the recent restaurant move to the tasting room in a barrel cellar makes dining here uncomfortable. Try the varietal Marzemino, an Italian grape rarely seen outside its homeland. Here it makes a silky rich red wine. This winery was the first in New Zealand to make Cabernet Sauvignon and it’s an important component in their best wines.

A newcomer is Black Barn winery with a comfortable welcoming and most professionally run restaurant overlooking vineyards. Cooking is spot on with a good choice of local meats and seafood. Black Barn also has a delicatessen worthy of a visit.

Officially in the Esk Valley appellation, but just 20 minutes from Napier, is Linden Estate where a rather bare dining room is enlivened by colourful modern abstract paintings. A limited menu precisely cooked showcases Linden’s wines, and there is a good view over a vine filled valley to mountains.

Talk about wine on our forum.

Peter F May is the author of Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape: Odd Wines from Around the World which features more than 100 wine labels and the stories behind them, and PINOTAGE: Behind the Legends of South Africa’s Own Wine which tells the story behind the Pinotage wine and grape.

Disclosure: Peter F May paid in full for all his travel, tastings, food and wines.

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