The Waikato/Coromandel region was first spotted as a good viticultural area by viticultural expert Romeo Bragato in 1895. The first vines were planted at Te Kauwhata in 1897 and one of the first chinese winemakers established a vineyard in Thames which now goes by the name of Totara Wines. Even Montana wines created a massive vineyard south of the Bombay hills at Mangatangi.
The region has diminished in recent years due to unfavourable climate conditions, but their is still some large producers like Morton Estate and Mills Reef, which are making some Gold Medal winning wines. Only a small amount of the wine producers in this area use fruit from the region, rather they usually truck up fruit from the Hawkes Bay and Marlborough regions.
Mills Reef Winery is situated just five minutes drive from Tauranga's CBD. The winery has large winemaking facilities and a large cellar. They have improved and become highly successful since its establishment in 1989. Mills Reef have won numerous Gold Medals, especially for their Elspeth Range. They also have a Reserve Range and a Mills Reef Range. The company sources most of their grapes from Hawkes Bay where it is trucked up to Tauranga to be made into wine. The winery is also the place where numerous other vineyard growers make their wine, including Emeny Road.
Morton Estate is one of New Zealand's larger middle sized wine labels. There head office is in Auckland, whereas their winery is on the periphery of Tauranga City. They also boast some old vineyards dotted around the country predominantly in Hawke's Bay. Morton Brown, the founder, planted his first grapes in 1979 and created a popular wine label with the help of Australian winemaker John Hancock. Ownership has since gone to the current owner John Coney. Today the winemaking is controlled by Evan Ward and Nick Millichip.
Emeny Road is a boutique vineyard located on the edge of Tauranga City. The vineyard is grown on a north facing hill which has beautiful views out to sea. Emeny Road specializes in Chardonnay, producing intense, concentrated wine that is full bodied and has fine fruit enhanced by oak handling. Emeny Road has their wine made at Mills Reef winery down the road and sells their limited stock at restaurants and local liquor stores.
Mercury Bay Estate was formed from the Shakespeare Cliff Vineyard in 1996. The vineyard is situated on rolling hills looking out over Cooks Beach in the Whitianga Coromandel region. Mercury Bay produces interesting wine from grapes grown in cooks beach, coromandel (Pinot Noir and Rosé) as well as grapes from the Hawke's Bay region. The vineyard is protected from the prevailing westerly weather by the ranges and the soil is well matched for growing Pinot Noir grapes. The vineyard is north facing, which picks up great sun and heat through late summer for optimum ripening.