Hawkes Bay Wine

  

Hawkes Bay Wine

In bars, restaurants and wine shops all over the planet, it is possible to find the highly demanded Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. It is a flavour that we have all become accustomed to and that we associate with the New Zealand wine industry. Marlborough may be the largest wine region in the country, but Hawkes Bay is the oldest, the second largest, and quickly building a reputation for the unique and diverse range of wines that it produces.

The first ever winery in the region, and in fact the whole country, was established in 1851 by French Roman Catholic missionaries. Aptly named Mission Estate Winery, the vineyard is still producing wine today, displaying a traditional yet sleek tasting room attached to the side of a fine dining restaurant, all within the historic estate buildings. Of course, not all vineyards are the same, and with a winery count surplus of 70, it is very easy to find a place that suits your style, and it is well worth exploring to have a taste of everything. Some of the larger and better known wineries such as Craggy Range and the award winning Elephant Hill are regarded for their fine dining and killer views, yet establishments such as Crab Farm present a more horizontal, bohemian and relaxed atmosphere while still providing high quality wine and cuisine.
Marlborough holds the crown for the Sauvignon Blanc, however Hawkes Bay celebrates a large palette of different grapes and flavours. Bordeaux style blends can be found at almost every cellar door, and the region is responsible for more than 80% of new Zealand's Syrahs. These are typically a little softer and more refined than Australian Shiraz wines, often a little dry on the tongue (as kiwis tend to prefer dry wines over sweet ones) with subtle undertones of pepper and red berries. Chardonnay and aromatic whites are also in abundance, as well as a few surprises you'll only encounter at the cellar doors.
The area is ideal for wine growing due to it's stable and warm climate as well as long sunshine hours. There is a plethora of soil types which means that a large number of different fruits and grapes can be produced. Hawkes Bay is surrounded by rolling hills that climb quite steeply, and also protect the vines from particularly high winds. The dry and warm weather allows for low alcohol varieties of grape to be harvested from as early as the middle of February, with the main harvest kicking off between the middle of March and the middle of April depending on how the weather has been throughout the year.
The changes in landscape also effect the wine growing. The rolling hills provide different daylight exposures and cooler temperatures at night which are perfect for red wines, whereas the coastal regions benefit from the gentle sea breeze and are ideal locations to grow the chardonnay grapes and some other white varieties. Furthermore, the alluvial plains provide some of the best conditions due to the Ngaruroro river's changing course, leaving traces of red metal, free draining soils, and gravelly terraces. Some wineries proudly bear the name “Gimblett Gravels” on their labels due to the distinctive characteristics of growing wine in this particular part of the bay. The name is even internationally recognised for enthusiasts with some deeper knowledge on the subject of wine.
Many of the vineyards are in close proximity to each other, and there are many different tours to help you experience a cross section of what the area has to offer. One popular method is a bicycle tour. For those who are intimidated by the prospect of hard exercise, relax; most of the cycling is on very flat terrain, and the diminished distances between cellar doors means that you will spend more of your time drinking than pedaling. You can also make your own tour, but be sure to have a designated driver. Most vineyards have a cellar door where you can taste and compare different wines, with experts on hand to talk you through the flavours of the harvest, as well as the history of the vineyards and the area. Vineyards will typically charge a 5,00$NZD tasting fee, which is wavered should you decide to purchase a bottle.

 

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