1. Long Lunch at Bistro Molines
No Hunter Valley visit is complete without spending a long, lazy wine luncheon at one of the region’s finest restaurants, Bistro Molines ( bistromolines.com.au). The dining room is decked out in a provincial echo of Provence décor, with set tables dressed in all white and a picturesque view down through to the sun-soaked slopes and vines of Carillion Wines (carillionwines.com.au). Behind the pass, local legend Chef Robbie Molines and his team dare to prepare a memorable French-inspired feast featuring plates of market fish and roast duck, sometimes rabbit, venison, and cervelle d’agneaux. Sit back, relax, and let the wine flow all afternoon long. DANIEL HONAN
TIP: No matter how full you might think you feel, always, always, get dessert.
2. Green Door Wines
If you live for quiz night, then a trip to Green Door Wines ( greendoorwines.com.au), situated among the lush hillsides of Ferguson Valley, is for you. You can try your hand (or tastebuds) at a blind tasting with their Black Glass experience (table bookings recommended). Test your sensory perception and see if you can figure out varieties such as monastrell and garnacha, and tell the difference that an amphora can make to the wine’s development. Friendly staff are on hand if you need a few pointers. CASSANDRA CHARLICK
TIP: Be sure to enjoy a generous grazing board afterwards as a reward for your tasting prowess.
3. Conscious Quaffing in Queenstown
The Sherwood ( sherwoodqueenstown.nz) is one of the most unique and organic of Queenstown wine experiences. In keeping with their strongly eco-conscious outlook and values, the hotel eschews bottles for most of their small but thoughtful wine program and buys wine in keg directly from organic Central Otago producers. Almost all are naturally made without preservatives or the polishing touches of bottling, since these don’t travel far from winery to table. Instead, they are bottled on-site at the hotel — significantly reducing both energy (from manufacture and shipping) and waste (reusing instead of recycling). STEPHEN WONG MW
TIP: The philosophy also extends to the wine available in-room, too. Instead of bottles in the minibar, the hotel provides empty bottles and riggers for guests to choose what they wish to have from the ‘tap room’ as needed.
4. The Landing
The Bay of Islands is where the first vines were planted in New Zealand, back in 1819, but today the region is better known as a holiday destination. The Landing ( thelandingnz.com) is aiming to put Northland’s wines back on the wine lover’s radar and benefits from being located in one of the country’s most beautiful regions. The winery is also sustainable and in 2021 gained carbon-zero certification. JANE SKILTON MW
TIP: Winemaker Ben Byrne crafts excellent chardonnay and syrah so book to visit the cellar door, and maybe have lunch or push the boat out and stay in one of the luxurious upmarket residences overlooking Rangihoua Bay.
5. Seafood on
The Gravity Fishing Experience ( gravityfishing.co.nz) is a lifetime must do fishing/foraging/foodie experience. Owner and operator Nate is passionate about sustainable fishing and the local, traditional spoils of the region. He works with incredible chefs who whip up Michelin Star standard food with each catch. Imagine eating freshly collected oysters drizzled in a tasty vinaigrette on the back of the boat while motoring off to check the crayfish pots, before parking up in a bay, digging for cockles with your toes, then back to the boat for seafood linguine with the setting sun. NAT CHRISTENSEN
TIP: Pack a warm jersey for late-night Kiwi (the bird kind) spotting on the island.
6. Mezcal and People Watching in Auckland
Owner/operator of La Fuente Wine and Mezcal Shoppe and Bar ( lafuente.co.nz), Edmundo Farrera and his team love talking about wine and introducing patrons to something new and exciting. With an ever-changing list specialising in fresh and exciting labels alongside a fabulous mezcal menu, La Fuente is in the heart of Auckland city – and the perfect bustling bar to spend an evening drinking wines you’ll struggle to find again and food you can’t resist. My friends and I have shared many a bottle, always of Edmundo’s choice, sitting in Snickel Lane watching the city go by. ROSIE FINN
TIP: A nationwide delivery service means you can stock up on your wine of choice.
7. Fine Vines in
The Fine Vines Festival ( finevinesfestival.com.au), established in 2021, brings together an incredible selection of events designed to highlight the remarkable quality and diversity of Margaret River’s extraordinary wine offering. For wine lovers, novices and aficionados, there is definitely an event to suit, including fine dining experiences, vertical tastings, bicycle wine tours or a pét-nat party. There’s plenty of fun to be had. EMMA FARRELLY
TIP: A festival highlight is the Chameleon event at Vasse Felix, showcasing the breadth and depth of the queen of the region: chardonnay.
8. Sacred Sites Experience
at Tyrrell’s Wines
No one spins a yarn quite like Bruce Tyrrell, while his son, Chris, has learnt from the best. Go beyond the cellar door on your next visit to Australia’s oldest wine region by booking a special Sacred Sites Experience at Tyrrell’s ( tyrrells.com.au). Hosted by either Bruce or Chris, this is a Hunter Valley wine experience like no other. It features a guided tour of the old Ashman’s property and its revered 100-year-old-plus vineyard sites, followed by a ramble through the red dirt floors and old barrel hall of the Tyrrell’s winery, and a private tasting of the very special Sacred Sites wines. DANIEL HONAN
TIP: Ask Bruce or Chris about the materials used in the construction of the old winery.
9. A Day with the Dirtman
Explore the Barossa Valley like a local with Gibson Wines’ Day with the Dirtman experience ( gibsonwines.com.au). The Dirtman is none other than Gibson Wines winemaker, viticulturist and geologist Rob Gibson. It’s a great insight into this famed region and includes lunch at the Gibson Wines Light Pass Cellar Door, a wander in the estate’s barrels cellar and a tasting of the brand’s rare and exclusive Special Bin bottlings. AMY NORTHCOTT
TIP: Also check out their newly Launched Barossa Shiraz by Barrel tour, hosted by winemaker Adam Fiegert.
10. Oranje Tractor Winery
Follow the winding path through avocado and citrus trees and you’ll find yourself at Oranje Tractor Winery’s ( oranjetractor.com) quirky and rustic cellar door. The farm is fully regenerative – from the vineyard through to those fruit-laden trees you swished through. Try upgrading to the Silver Service wine flight (bookings essential Friday and Monday, walk-ins Sunday only), where you’ll get to enjoy vintage glassware and special touches from owners Murray and Pam. Plan your trip if you want to enjoy one of their unique Saturday experiences; take your pick from farm tours, riesling masterclasses, and food and wine pairing classes. CASSANDRA CHARLICK
TIP: Don’t miss their vermouth made from botanicals picked from the garden.
Photography by Kristian Frires, Lauren Trickett, Sam Oster, ames Bennett and Frances Andrijich, and courtesy of Green Door, Bistro Molines, the sherwood, The Landing, Gravity Fishing and The Winery.