Waiheke Island has over the last few decades become the utopian paradise of the New Zealand wine scene. With balmy summer nights, beautiful beaches, stunning vineyards and quality wines, the Island is a welcoming retreat from the busy Auckland City a quick ferry ride away. The vineyards on Waiheke come in all different shapes and sizes. From boutique artisan winemakers to larger more well-known names such as Stonyridge, Goldie and Man O'War. Waiheke wine first hit the news when Goldwaters first planted vines in 1977. They were followed soon after by Stephen White at Stonyridge in 1982 and Peninsula Estate in 1984.
Cabernet blends have been the flag bearers for Waiheke but Syrah is the new hero winning awards left right and centre. A surge in new plantings reflect the desire of some new winegrowers to expand the vineyard surface area on the island. These new vineyards guarantee a bright future for this memorable Island.
Man O' War first began planting vines on Waiheke in 1993. Today they manage more than 150 acres of vines planted in 76 individual hillside blocks. Each block has been designed
with specific rootstocks, grape clones and planting densities to match the terroir. The white grape varietals are located on the hilltops whereas the red grape varietals are on
the hillsides. Man O'War also has vineyards on the nearby Ponui Island.
The flagship range include eight different wines showcasing the best of each grape varietal. These are the Gravestone Sauvignon Semillon, Tulia Blanc de Blanc, Valhalla Chardonnay, Valkyrie Viognier, Exiled Pint Gris, Ironclad Merlot Cabernet Franc, Dreadnought Syrah, and the Warspite Cabernet Franc Merlot.
Goldie Wines can boast as being Waiheke Island's pioneering vineyard. The vineyard was first planted in 1978 by Kim and Jeanette Goldwater who turned it into one of New Zealand's most iconic wine labels. Located in Putiki Bay, the vineyard holds commanding views out over the bay and is looked after by the iconic tree on top of the hill. Goldie originally specialised in Bordeaux blends but has become well-known in recent times for their Syrah and Chardonnay.
The Goldie vineyards extend over 12 ha of free-draining clay based soils and are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Viognier, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay. The vineyard is also home to Auckland University's Wine Science Programme where students can get a hands-on experience and find innovative research. As well as a tasting room there is the Goldie Room offereing an exclusive venue for Corporate functions and Client entertainment. The Goldie Range include Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet/Merlot/Franc, Syrah and a Merlot.
Cable Bay was first established in 1996 by Neil Culley and vineyards were planted soon after in 1998. The first vintage was born in 2002. Since then a winery, restaurant and cellar door has been built with views out to Auckland City. Cable Bay is a beautiful place to visit and dine, with the restaurant winning many awards in the last decade. Cable Bay vineyard is a must-see while on Waiheke.
Stonyridge vineyard is located in a north-facing valley, 1 km from the sea. It is sheltered from the cold southwesterly winds by a long ridge running from one coast to the other. The soil at Stonyridge is poor low-fertility Waitemata clay. Stonyridge is organic in their approach to viticulture only using fertilizers which are natural-ground limestone and homemade seaweed emulsion. The vine-disease-protection is limited to only non-systemic fungicides. Stonyridge produces some excellent wines including the famed Larose, Pilgrim Syrah blend and a delicious Malbec.
Mudbrick is the creation of Robyn and Nicholas Jones. They purchased land in 1992 when Nicholas and Robyn were 28 and 27 respectively. Both believed a life producing wine and living off the land would be more fulfilling than working in an office as accountants. Mudbrick vineyard boast majestic views toward Auckland City and Rangitoto as well as gardens, a restaurant and a cozy cellar door.
Mudbrick grow varietals which include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Syrah Chardonnay and Viognier. They handpick, hand plung and use gentle basket pressing to make their wine. In addition to the Waiheke range, they also produce Pinot Noir and white wines from other New Zealand regions.