Selfridges Harry Gordon’s Wine Bar & Shop

One of my new favourite places in London, I adore this wine bar and adjacent shop found on the basement level of Selfridges on Bond Street.
The wine shop features a range of over 900 wines, arranged by country as well as three enomatic machines, allowing you to taste a selection of the finest wines and sprits.
Harry Gordon’s Bar is named after Selfridges founder and is an intimate space to relax and put your feet up after a hard day’s shopping. I was impressed with the wine list, in particular we really enjoyed the Beyra Branco from Portugal which really did sing of apples. The Chilean Viognier was also a winner, washed down with some moreish paprika flavoured popcorn. The table service was attentive but not intrusive. All in all a great little spot, I am just finding it increasingly difficult to leave the bar without a purchase from the wine shop on my way out!

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Wine Of The Week

I was pleasantly surprised to find this ‘Selected by Tesco’ Portuguese wine from the Douro Valley in my local Tesco Store.
In a few weeks I will be off to the Douro Valley region in Portugal for the first time, where I will be staying amongst the vineyards in my first European Vineyard Getaway, absolutely can’t wait!
So, in anticipation of my visit to this area I purchased this lovely bottle of wine. It’s undeniably reminiscent of the infamous port produced in the surrounding area with it’s sweet and rich flavour. I like the idea of enjoying this wine perhaps post Christmas, when the overindulgence of sweet port seems a little much, this is a lighter alternative but still very bold and rich in flavour.
I look forward to experiencing many more wines from this area in a few weeks time!

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Tesco Finest Douro 75cl
Grape- Tinta Roriz
Winemaker- Antonina Barbosa
Producer- Falua Sociedade de Vinhos

Saint Clair Vineyard Half Marathon

I’ve been meaning to write up this incredible event for a while now…with the move back to the UK and the new website to set up, the blog has been a bit neglected, but I am back in force with a shiny new format and plenty of wine related musings to post.

An incredible highlight of my last month in New Zealand was the Saint Clair Half Marathon which took place in the Marlborough Vineyards at the top of New Zealand’s South Island.
This is such an amazing event, for anyone interested in running, wine, or just looking for a good day out I highly recommend this event!
Highlights for me were receiving my trophy at the end of the course in wine bottle format- a lovely bottle of The Saint Clair Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, running through the stunning Cloudy Bay Vineyard at the 10k point, the refreshing Sauvignon Blanc gelato at 13k and the bagpipe players on the final end straight. The course was so scenic, running through the vines with the morning sunlight breaking through was beautiful. I can’t think of a more stunning course to run my first half marathon on.
A simply wonderful event- check out more info here:

http://vineyardhalf.com

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Wine of The Week

Going to keep my wine of the week short and sweet this week.

This week’s wine of the week is none other than the House Sav from our good old local in Miramar, ‘Gasworks’, a lovely bottle of the Dusky Sounds Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

Not only is this a very drinkable typical South Island Sav, it’s the wine of choice that’s been enjoyed by my best NZ friend and I once a week during good times and bad, venting our stress over a bottle of wine and a burger.  Sugar and carbs, what’s not to love?!

It just goes to show that sometimes, it’s not even what you’re drinking, or what you’re eating, but just the company you are in that makes the evening worthwhile.  It is with a poignant note and a heavy heart that I write my last wine of the week in NZ.  I’ve had an incredible time, and I hope to come back some time in the future….I have a few more things to write up on the blog before I leave.  But for now, this is my wine of choice to end my wine of the week feature- to good Kiwi wine, good Kiwi friendship and good Kiwi times!

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Wine of The Week

Wellingtonians will tell you, we are blessed to have access to some wonderful cinemas in this compact city, my personal favourite being The Roxy which is situated in Miramar.   The Roxy is co owned by Oscar-winning editor Jamie Selkirk and wife Ann, Weta Workshop founders Tania Rodger and Sir Richard Taylor, local foodies Valentina and Daminda Dias, cinephiles Tim Alexander and Jo-Anne Lundon, and cocktail connoisseurs Jonny and Justin McKenzie. All are passionate about film, food, and Wellington and this really shows.

The carefully restored interior of the cinema is stunning and worth a visit in itself.  It is designed in an art deco style, with amazing sculptures and artworks, many of which are created by the talent at Weta Workshop.

Needless to say a trip to this cinema is always a joy, and enjoyed even more so because I can always rely upon purchasing a lovely glass of wine from the restaurant’s fantastic wine list and relaxing in the cinema with ample leg room, comfy seats, and a little side table for my glass of choice!  It’s just so much more civilised than a bucket of popcorn and litre of pepsi!

In celebration of the release of this months’ big action hit ‘Godzilla’, it seemed rather in keeping that I should hop across the pond this week and go for a big bold Aussie red from the aptly named vineyard ‘Mt. Monster’.

Coco at The Roxy feature Mt. Monster’s 2012 Shiraz on their menu, and it was discovering this wine on their list that led me to investigate the Australian Limestone Coast vineyard further and stumble across the wonderful 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon which is featuring as my wine of the week.

This lovely wine is a deep purple in colour with typical Aussie aromas of fruit and berries, with a hint of mint running through.  The texture is rich and velvety and everything you would expect from a wine with a vineyard whose name alone suggests both intrigue and confidence.

Go see this movie, and watch it with an equally bold glass of Aussie red in your hand and you are in for a real monster of an evening!

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Awards

  • BRONZE MEDAL
    Limestone Coast Wineshow., 2011
  • BRONZE MEDAL
    New World Wine Awards 2011
  • GOLD MEDAL / 90 POINTS
    2011 BTI World Wine Championships, USA

Mt Monster Vineyard:

http://www.mtmonster.com.au

The Roxy Cinema:

http://www.roxycinema.co.nz

 

Syrah Wine Tasting @ Regional Wine and Spirits, Wellington

Last week I went to my first wine tasting at Regional Wine and Spirits- the Syrah ‘Tri-Nations Challenge’ with Andrew Parkinson.  It was a fantastic evening consisting of four flights of blind tasting various Syrahs’ from NZ, Australia and France.

After each tasting we commented on the wines and tried to place what country they were from.  I have to say by the end of the evening I was definitely improving and could start to pick up on the typical characteristics of the wines from the various countries!

I have discovered a real love for Syrah in this country.  My first introduction to it was during my first visit to Hawke’s Bay stumbling across the Alpha Domus cellar door.  This particular wine featured on the second flight during the wine tasting evening and was really enjoyed by all! It’s also exceptional value for money considering how popular it was.

Other stand out wines for me during the evening were the French Guigal St Joseph 2011 Syrah and the Australian Henschke Mt Edelston 2008 Shiraz which had the most fantastic aroma! Henschke are also bringing in some very interesting glass stopper bottles which could start to prove very popular.  When you think that cork has a failure rate of between 10 and 50%, it makes sense that wineries are looking for ways to improve this statistic, whilst still keeping to tradition.  You can read more about Henschke and the glass stoppers here: http://www.vinolok.cz/references/henschke-winery

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Retail Prices as of May 2014:

Guigal Saint-Joseph Red 2011 $57.95

Alpha Domus Syrah Barn Stormer 2012 $29.40

Henschke Mt Edelston Shiraz 2008 $163.35

Check out Regional Wine and Spirits website for more information on further in store tastings and wine recommendations

 

Wine of The Week

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Let’s be honest….for most of us there are times where our wine purchase of choice is purely based on the label design.  We are told to not judge a book by it’s cover….but at the end of a long week I have a ten minute patience threshold for supermarket aisles and a strong label design will always grab my eye.  Which is why I wanted to feature this quirky Pinot Noir as this week’s wine of the week.

Amongst a supermarket shelf of very serious NZ Pinot Noirs this label stood out to me as so fun and different and I couldn’t resist giving it a try.

The blurb on the back of the label states

‘Pinot Noir is fickle but she is charming, she is temperamental but bewitching.  She is the Fickle Mistress’.

 A new label out of the Treasury Wine Estates stable this wine is being marketed as an affordable Central Otago pinot noir. It is intended – this is a wonderful sentence – to “appeal to consumers with its quirky and niche NZ branding that is visually engaging and will prove to be a wonderful conversation starter when dining and drinking.” Pinot Noir is a cool climate red grape, producing a light to medium red wine with intense flavours.  The grapes are very sensitive and require constant care.  Therefore the name refers to the fact that pinot noir is generally considered to be a “fickle mistress” – in the vineyard. Nikolai St George is credited as the winemaker in the corporate release but the wine is actually made by Greg Rowdon.  

It got me thinking about many years ago travelling on the train from London to Bournemouth with some University friends one Friday night.  We had treated ourselves to a bottle of M&S wine and some nibbles from Waterloo station to while away the three hour train journey after work.  Sharing our four seater table with a stranger, we got talking bout wine labels as he mentioned he worked in the area of wine marketing.  We had an interesting discussion about how wine labels really don’t branch out much at all.  In recent years the advertising on wine bottles has certainly got more interesting, but I am curious to see what the general consensus is on this topic.  Would you take a bottle of wine with a modern illustrative design on it as a less ‘serious’ bottle than a text based design?  Do you think a more modern quirky design cheapens the perceived value of the bottle? Working in visual effects and design myself, this is an area I find really interesting as I think we could start to see a lot more innovation in years to come.

It may be fickle and tricky to grow but it’s certainly very easy to drink! Deep red, this wine has flavours of dark cherries, blackberry and cocoa aromas.  A lovely bottle of wine with a unique selling point makes Fickle Mistress Central Otago 2012 Pinot Noir this week’s NZ Wine of The Week.

Wine of The Week

In honour of the Royal Visit to the Central Otago based Amisfield Vineyard recently, my wine of the week this week is their 2012 Pinot Gris which I was very pleased to discover in Wellington’s Regional Wine and Spirits.  Well, if it’s good enough for royalty, it’s good enough for me!

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Amisfield was established in 1988 and is a Central Otago based specialist producer of Pinot Noir and aromatic white wines sourced from fruit grown on their Estate vineyard beneath the Pisa Mountain range in the Cromwell Basin.

Amisfield wines reflect the company’s grape growing and winemaking philosophy underlining faithful expression of site, minimal winemaking intervention and ultimate fruit purity. Stringent yield management practices deliver concentrated fruit flavour, consistency and complexity derived from the range of soils found on the vineyard.

Their restaurant menu also looks fantastic and I hope to follow the Royal footsteps and sneak in a visit to Amisfield this year.

Read more about the Royal Visit here:

http://www.amisfield.co.nz/amisfield/special-events-andamp-news/218

For opening hours and menu:

http://www.amisfield.co.nz

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 More photos from the Royal Visit can be seen on the Governor General Facebook Page

Martinborough Weekend Roundup

As promised! Here’s a summary of my weekend break in Martinborough.

Palliser Vineyard

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Palliser Vineyard, being opposite my accommodation was my first stop on the Martinborough Wine Trail.  The wines here were very nice, and I remembered the setting well from my visit to Toast the year before.  However, I felt a bit more attention could be given to the cellar door presentation.  The books on display were a little tired looking, and the gardens were just, unimaginative.  I guess for such a well established brand of wine, I expecting a little more.

Still, I enjoyed the tastings and bought myself a lovely bottle of Chardonnay from their Pencarrow Range.

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Margrain Vineyard

Margrain offers one of the largest ranges of wines for the standard $5 tasting fee that I have experienced anywhere in New Zealand.

This was the only vineyard I stopped off at in the region where I tried some bubbles, and there were also lesser known varieties to try such as the Chenin Blanc and Gewürztraminer.

I enjoyed the cellar door host as she commented often on food pairings which I found very useful.  I decided to purchase a bottle of the Reisling for 24 dollars as I found it very crisp and refreshing compared to some of the very sweet white wines such as the Chenin Blanc.

I was a little disappointed that the group in front of me got a lovely wine bag to take their purchases away in.  When I asked for one I was told that as I only bought one bottle I would be charged 5dollars.  Obviously a lone traveller is not going to buy as much as a large group so found that a little frustrating.

There was a lovely cafe next door which looked like a good spot to stop for lunch with view over the vineyards.

www.thevillagecafe.co.nz

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The Cabbage Tree Vineyard

Wondered in here as the sign outside looked welcoming stating tastings and platters were on offer.  However, after wondering in and waiting for a while with no sign of any staff I wondered straight back out again….

Martinborough Vineyard

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This vineyard had the best cellar door host I experienced today in Martinborough.  She was informative, bubbly and good with large groups.  I didn’t feel rushed to get through the wines as I did in some other places, the tasting pace was more relaxed.  I particularly liked the red wines on offer.  Such a shame they didn’t have the Syrah Viognier special available to taste as I have a feeling I would have enjoyed that! There was a wonderful selection of Pinot Noirs on offer here.

My only gripe with this vineyard is the packaging and branding.  The yellow label with the Martinborough Vineyard font really does feel so retro.  There’s something about the label that screams 80s to me, and not necessarily in a good way.  Sounds harsh but their wines were stand out and I don’t feel like their branding does it justice.

Next up….lunch

I stopped off at the Pinocchio cafe in town for lunch.  All that cycling had made me hungry so I opted for the NZ beef burger and shoestring fries.  A very good albeit messy burger that totally hit the spot! A good place to stop for lunch and had a space for me to leave to my bicycle in the outdoors courtyard.

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Feeling a little disheartened by my Martinborough Vineyard experience in comparison to other regions, I decided to take Cambridge Road out from the Square and see if I could fit in another two tastings.  I was keen to visit the Ata Rangi Vineyard and clearly, so were the hordes of other tourists who arrived at the same time as me.

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The cellar door here was too busy, I felt rushed and didn’t feel like I had the time to learn much about the wines at all.  There were a nice selection of wines on offer and to buy, albeit quite pricey.  I did learn that the Crimson Range by Ata Rangi is called such because of the attempt to plant more of the New Zealand Christmas Trees which the owner is actively involved in.  A small percentage of these bottle sales is going towards this.

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My last stop was to be Vynfields Vineyard.  Vynfields is a certified organic vineyard and is a beautiful setting, tastings are in a historic homestead amongst manicured gardens.  This was the prettiest of all the vineyards I visited.  However, with a tasting fee of $10 and already feeling, dare I say it, a little done with wine! I decided to just take a stroll around and opt out of any further tastings.  There was an intriguing food menu here and perhaps it would have been a good spot to stop for lunch had I not stopped in town.

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Perhaps if I had made it to Poppies or the Murdoch James Estate I would have found more restaurant/vineyard type experiences similar to that of Waiheke, but in general the places I visited felt like their cellar door experiences were not a high priority in the business.  Marlborough and Waiheke, obviously have huge numbers of tourists coming through their doors which explains their investment in this side of things, yet Hawke’s Bay I felt was even quieter in terms of visitor numbers yet the cellar door experiences I had here were far superior.  This isn’t to say there aren’t some incredible wines being produced in this area, personally I just found the experience different to cellar door experiences elsewhere in New Zealand.

I also found that the tasting fee was standard everywhere,  this is definitely the region for some lovely Pinot Noirs but there weren’t many bubbles nor dessert wines on offer for tasting.

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http://www.palliser.co.nz

http://www.margrainvineyard.co.nz

http://www.martinborough-vineyard.co.nz

http://www.atarangi.co.nz

http://www.vynfields.com

http://www.pinocchiomartinborough.co.nz

Wine of the Week

Since daylight savings kicked in here, the weather has turned.  It became winter, suddenly, overnight.  Inevitably with the darkness, rain and southerlies battering Wellington, the craving for curling up on the sofa indoors with a nice bottle of red has replaced my long and wonderful summer filled with Kiwi Savs.

Wine of the week I am enjoying this week is from a wonderful vineyard I visited in Hawke’s Bay a while back called Abbey Cellars.  I’ll always remember this vineyard as upon its approach we admired the architecture of the building and I asked the owner when they decided to convert the church into their home/vineyard.  She smiled and said ‘New Zealand’s not that old’.  I guess we are so used to converted churches in the UK that I didn’t think that a property build would be approached the other way round.  The owners love and appreciation of churches and old buildings brought about through their travels led them to create a building that is a unique interpretation of a gothic abbey.  It is a beautiful site to behold.

The wines are equally stunning and I am enjoying their 2009 ‘Rapture’ Merlot this week.  It won the Silver award at the Royal Easter Show Wine awards 2011 and is recommended by WineEstate magazine.  A perfect match for a fillet steak and mushrooms.

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Cellar Door:
1769 Maraekakaho Road
Hastings 4171, New ZealandSummer Hours:
Daily – 11:00am until 5:00pm
Large groups and tours by appointment please.
Postal Address:
PO Box 8115
Havelock North 4157, New ZealandPhone: +64 6 879 6171
Fax: +64 6 824 3168
Email:  sales@abbeycellars.com

Micro Wine Bar Martinborough

I feel compelled to write a section about this lovely little bar and restaurant as I had such a fantastic experience here on my first night in Martinborough.

Having previously enjoyed a nice glass of Reisling in popular local bar Cool Change which had a great atmosphere on a sunny Friday evening, I decided to take a wonder and see what was available for a light dinner nearby.

As the name suggests, Micro Wine Bar is a very small bar just off the main street in Martinborough.    It was Friday night and the few tables outside in the sun were all taken so I snuck inside to see if I could prop up the bar.  Micro was a stand out experience for me in Martinborough.  I was delighted to see wine flights on the menu so opted for a selection of 5 Martinborough Pinots.

The service I received here was so warm and friendly.  I was told there was space in the courtyard outside or I could sit at the bar, wherever I was comfortable.  When you eat out alone, personal touches like this can really change your experience.  Micro offer small plates which seemed ideal as I wasn’t hugely hungry.  I ordered some marinated olives to start, which was a generous portion and perfect with my first wine tasting! I also ordered the dim sum and the sesame chicken.  There were so many delicious things on the menu I would love to go back and try more. The dim sum for me could have benefited from a little more spice, but the sesame chicken was really standout.  I appreciated being brought a blanket when it got a little cold in the courtyard.  The service was just right, the name may be small but it’s huge on personality and comes highly recommended as one of my favourite places in Martinborough to wine and casually dine.

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The wine flight featured the following Pinot Noirs from left to right:

2012 Pencarrow, 2012 Te Tara, 2010 Julicher 99 Rows, 2011 Te Kairange Runholder, 2011 The Elder

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Micro Wine Bar

14 Ohio St, Martinborough 5711

06-306 9716

Wine, Cocktails, Craft Beer, Small Plates

  • thursday – monday
    3:00pm – late
  • tuesday – wednesday
    closed

www.microbar.co.nz

Martinborough Weekend

I previously visited Martinborough during the infamous Toast food and wine festival which is a fantastic event that happens every November in the Martinborough region.  I have been keen to return to the area without the large numbers of people to experience Martinborough for myself so recently booked a weekend up in the Wairarapa region.

I was lucky enough to find some wonderful accommodation for the weekend.  The Winemakers Loft is a pretty picturesque converted barn situated in the Porter’s Vineyard in central Martinborough with incredible views across the surrounding vineyards.  Being able to stay in a working vineyard yet have the privacy to come and go as you please was truly wonderful.  The loft was within walking distance of many of the vineyards and very close to the town centre with it’s variety of bars and restaurants.  I should mention, that being a working vineyard with the wine being produced downstairs, be prepared to be woken early if you decide to stay here!

Martinborough itself is a fantastic region that is only just over an hours drive from Wellington.  One of the towns worth stopping off at on the way from Wellington is Greytown.  Situated a short fifteen minutes drive from Martinborough, Greytown has some lovely boutiques and restaurants as well as the famous chocolate shop Schoc which offers an impressive 60 flavours of chocolate available for customers to taste.

My weekend included visits to Margrain, Palliser, Martinborough Vineyard, Ata Rangi and Vynfields, details of which to come!

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Sileni Vineyard Hawke’s Bay

Sileni is an absolute must visit if you are in the Hawke’s Bay area.  You will know you have arrived by the grand entrance to the vineyard, it’s a very impressive long driveway!  The actual estate Sileni, is named after the Sileni who featured in Roman mythology alongside Bacchus, the god of wine.

Of course the wine tasting at Sileni was excellent but what really caught my eye was the temperature controlled cheese room stocked with an impressive selection of cheeses.  There is a vast array of gourmet foods to purchase from their shop, this is definitely a stop for all food lovers.  The store offers lovely hampers, food items and gifts for those looking to stock up on some presents for those back home.

Those interested in touring the vineyard can book a vineyard and wine tasting tour, there is also a cheese and wine tasting option available and even an option to tour the Village Press where you can taste the award winning olive oils paired with the gorgeous Sileni wines.

This vineyard has something for everyone, which is probably why it was voted ‘Cellar Door of the Year’ in 2012.  We left with a beautiful bottle of Syrah for ourselves and some chocolates for those back home.  A superb experience with a wonderful selection of wines.

Sileni Estates

2016 Maraekakaho Road
RD1, Hastings
PO Box 2234
Stortford Lodge
Hastings
Phone: +64 6 879 8768
Fax: +64 6 879 7187
  • Open 7 days a week from 10am to 5pm during Summer (Oct – Apr)
  • Open 5 days a week from 10am to 4pm during Winter (May – Sept)
  • Open over Easter Weekend 10am – 5pm
  • Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day

 

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Alpha Domus Vineyard Hawke’s Bay

About half way through our cycle of the Bridge Pa Triangle in Hawke’s Bay we came across Alpha Domus vineyard, nestled in the vicinity of an historic airfield.  The grounds were home to the training of many Air New Zealand pilots throughout history, hence prominence of the aircraft depicted on the vineyards label.  Established in 1995 by the Ham family, originally emigrated from Holland, Alpha Domus released their first wines to the market in 1996.

I have to credit Alpha Domus Vineyard with having one of the best cellar doors we have been to.  The host was so informative and we tried lots of new wines that we were really impressed with.  Our absolute favourites were the Viognier ‘The Wingwalker’ 2010 which we purchased and the ‘Barnstormer’ Syrah.

Now, every time I enjoy a bottle of Viognier I am transported back to our chalet in Lake Taupo where we enjoyed the bottle we purchased from the cellar door whilst watching the most incredible sunset on the horizon.

Alpha Domus Ltd.
1829 Maraekakaho Road
Hastings
Hawke’s Bay
Phone: +64 6 879 6752
Fax: +64 6 879 6952

Summer Hours
Open 7 days  – 10.00am until 5.00pm (1 September to the first weekend in June). Closed Christmas and Boxing days,
Good Friday and Easter Sunday  and ANZAC day.
Winter Hours
Closed.
Large groups and tours by appointment.
Service Fee for Wine Tasting of $5.00 per person, 1 service fee refunded on each bottle purchased. 
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Hawke’s Bay ‘On Yer Bike’ Wine Tours

Exploring the Hawke’s Bay wine region of New Zealand is no mean feat.  There are so many outstanding vineyards in this area, that we decided to focus the day on what is known as the ‘Bridge Pa Triangle’ and hire bicycles through a great company called ‘On Yer Bike’.

We had a bit of trouble finding our accommodation and the first vineyard on the stop, this was the first and only time we got lost in New Zealand! But all of our hosts were very gracious in waiting for us despite us turning up over an hour late.

Our first stop on the vineyard tour was The Ash Ridge Vineyard where we were whisked outside for a spot of wine tasting before being set up with our bikes, our packed lunches and a map of all the local vineyards.

You start the tour at Ash Ridge Wines from where you can cycle to Sileni Estate, Alpha Domus, Abbey Cellars, Triangle Cellars, Ngatarawa Estate, Salvare, Trinity Hill and Te Awa. This makes up around a 20Km circuit and you can comfortably do it in around 4-5 hours depending on how long you stay for tasting wine at each winery. Alternatively you can cycle the shorter route of Ngatarawa Road and cover 6 out of the 9 wineries.

The advantages of hiring bicycles from On Yer Bike are that they offer roadside assistance all day long if you have any problems, find you are too tired to cycle back or end up buying so much wine you simply can’t carry it on your bike, they are there to help!

The lunch we were provided with was absolutely delicious and very substantial.  For me, cycle hire is by far the best way to enjoy the beautiful countryside of these stunning vineyards and I can’t recommend On Yer Bike enough, it’s one of the best days out I’ve had in New Zealand.

http://www.onyerbikehb.co.nz

2543 State Highway 50, Hastings, Hawkes Bay

Tel: (06) 650 4627
Email: info@onyerbikehb.co.nz

Wineries included on the cycle tour are:

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