Winery Lunches, Hawke’s Bay

With more than 70 wineries in Hawke’s Bay – New Zealand’s oldest and second largest wine growing region – deciding where to sit back, relax and enjoy a leisurely lunch takes almost as long as the lunch itself. Heading to Hawke’s Bay to catch up with friends before F.A.W.C. there was no shortage of opportunities to indulge.

Friends who had relocated to Waiohiki were keen to go somewhere local. Church Road Winery was a short drive from their new home and bed and breakfast, Omaranui Garden View.  Hawke’s Bay turned on a stunner of a day so we grabbed a table on the terrace overlooking the picnic area.  It wasn’t hard to envisage the domain dotted with people enjoying wine and platters on summer weekends, but given it was a Tuesday we had the serene backdrop to ourselves.

 The grand entrance

The grand entrance

 The dining hall and tasting room

The dining hall and tasting room

 Perfect picnic spot

Perfect picnic spot

With nowhere else to be, we meandered our way through an impressive menu – punctuated with local artisan produce, each dish was perfectly paired with a Church Road wine – after all we had several months of catching up to do. It was the perfect excuse for being last to leave.

Travelling solo the next day, I drove the short distance from Havelock North to Clifton – the gateway to Cape Kidnappers and the gannet colony – and the Te Awanga wine growing area; home amongst others to Elephant Hill, Rod McDonald Wines and Clearview Estate wineries.

 Looking out to Cape Kidnappers

Looking out to Cape Kidnappers

Today’s remit was a casual lunch, somewhere a lone diner wouldn’t look out of place.  Turning into Clearview Estate a group of cyclists moved aside; the uneven gravel under their wheels revealing the unmistakable clinking of wine bottles hidden in their backpacks nestled in the woven baskets.  Suddenly, memories of a hilariously funny afternoon biking through the vineyards more than 10 years ago came flooding back, but that’s a story for another day!

Umbrella shaded tables in the courtyard were in high demand.  The cyclists headed for a wine-tasting – undoubtedly not the first of the day – before settling in for what looked like the beginning of an all afternoon lunch; the Takaro Trails car was in the carpark so this may have been their final stop.  With so much more to see and do, crab sliders with a lightly chilled Pinot Gris were the perfect combination, before heading to my next stop.

 Indulge in a wine tasting at Clearview Estate

Indulge in a wine tasting at Clearview Estate

 Crab sliders and a cheeky Pinot Gris

Crab sliders and a cheeky Pinot Gris

If you’re staying in Havelock North, Black Barn Vineyards is just around the corner. Take your pick from wine tastings, a leisurely lunch or simply grab some provisions from their store.  Their growers market, set amongst the trees, is a great way to kick off a Saturday (9am-noon) during summer.

Friday afternoon to kick off the Foodwriters NZ conference, we were guests of Craggy Range Winery, where we were treated to a smorgasbord of dishes created by the new head chef Casey Mc Donald, so keep your eyes open for an upcoming post.

Some handy links:

Hawke’s Bay Trails - Napier and Hastings | NZ Cycle Trail

Hire bikes:

Hawke’s Bay Wines – great source on information and maps etc

Grab a food and wine map from the local information office, it’s far easier than using your mobile.

Enjoy!

Michelle