New Zealand is home to more than 240 cellar doors with over 530 winery experiences, and even though it may be cold outside, if you think we are going to give up our beloved vino, think again.
While trips to vineyards and wineries might be considered a summer thing, there are a handful of wineries that are even more beautiful during the chilly months.
There is no better way to understand what goes into a glass of wine than tasting it overlooking the vineyard where it is grown. If you are lucky enough to be in one of New Zealand’s famous Pinot Noir regions during International Pinot Noir Day on 18 August, what better way to celebrate than by savouring a full and fruity local drop while relaxing in front of a roaring fire - so rug up and check out some of these cellar doors below.
Even though Northland may be known to locals as the winterless north, you can still get your winter cellar door experience at The Landing. Set on 1000 acres of coastal paradise and a place steeped in cultural significance, The Landing is blessed with a rich natural bounty.
Set off from either Paihia, Waitangi or Russell wharf on The Landing's private boat for a trip across the Bay of Islands to the beautiful Wairoa Bay. You will be met at their private jetty and given a tour through their spectacular vineyard on your way to their new winery and tasting room. Following a guided tasting of The Landing wines, enjoy a platter or two course lunch before returning to the jetty and a cruise back across the bay.
And hey, if it is good enough for the likes of Mick Jagger and 44th U.S. President Barack Obama, it is good enough for us. Bookings are essential.
Wild on Waiheke is your ultimate multi-activity experience on Waiheke Island, Auckland. With a restaurant, cellar door tasting room, and a plethora of activities from pentaque to archery available, there’s something for everyone. Cosy up by the fire and try their boutique wine, sold exclusively at Wild Estate.
The Cellar Door Tasting Room is open weekends only in winter.
Enjoy gourmet platters and wine tasting nestled amongst the vines and olive trees at Matawhero cellar door, just 10 minutes’ drive south of central Gisborne. Home to an underground cellar, you can learn about the history of the winery as well as other iconic New Zealand wine producers.
Matawhero is also home to luxury cabins, where you can stay amongst the vines. And as it’s located next to the cellar door, you can enjoy a platter and wine tasting on-site, or on your own private deck.
Crab Farm Winery is a boutique family owned and operated winery and restaurant, located just out of Napier. This is the perfect place to relax in winter with a blazing fire pit in to keep you warm, and if you have a passion for regular live music, then this is your venue.
Nestled in the heart of Havelock North, you’ll find the Smith & Sheth Vintage Cellar Door and Wine Lounge, and the Heretaunga Wine Studio.
Village Cellar Door and Wine Lounge
This urban cellar door gives you an opportunity to taste through a flight of Smith & Sheth CRU wines from vineyards throughout New Zealand. One of their expert team will take you through the flight, and then you can sit back and enjoy a glass of your favourite wine with one of their beautiful platters if you are feeling peckish.
Once the sun starts its daily descent the cellar door transforms itself into a Wine Lounge & Patio. Not only can you enjoy the wines of Smith & Sheth CRU, but also their sister wineries - Pyramid Valley and Lowburn Ferry.
No bookings are required, however for parties of more than six, they would appreciate a call.
The Smith & Sheth Heretaunga Studio is the most intimate experience of the wines of the Smith & Sheth family of wineries. In this very special space there is a theatre, barrel cellar, and lounge all in one, and a sommelier will take you through a selection of their best and rare wines, including samples straight from barrel.
Reservations are necessary for this 2.5-hour private tasting experience, and must be made 48 hours in advance to guarantee a place. Minimum booking is for two people, maximum eight people.
At Moy Hall Cellar Door, it’s all about wine, food, family, and friends. Using locally sourced produce matched with homegrown wines, enjoy a relaxed lunch in the Scottish longhouse set in the vineyard, or have Phill, the winemaker and team can talk you through their wines and the philosophy behind Moy Hall. You can also share a bottle with cheese or dessert in the front courtyard or on the lawn or under a large marquee on the deck overlooking the vines.
Open most days. Lunch bookings recommended for weekends.
In sunny Nelson, Gravity Winery Cellar Door offers visitors a wine journey through New Zealand’s top wine growing regions with wines from Waimea, Awatere River, Bannock Brae, LV and Sileni. On offer is a selection of platters filled with local produce, for you to enjoy with a glass of wine while taking in the stunning vista around you.
You can also take a tour in just one of two state of the art gravity fed wineries in Australasia with the winemaker or stop in at their local community Gallery on site, run by local artists.
Open Wednesday – Sunday.
More than a Cellar Door, Framingham is home to the Framingham Harvest Concert and a unique creative space, Framingham Underground. Framingham Underground is inspired by those who step out of the mainstream, be it music legends, artists, or winemakers, and as soon as you arrive, you’re inspired by lyrics of music greats throughout the courtyard.
Amazing local cheeses, meats and condiments are available to build a platter if you would like to relax a bit longer in the underground cellar, or venture outside into the courtyard.
Tasting bookings are recommended.
Located just five minutes from Blenheim township lying in the lee of the Wither Hills range, is Wither Hills Cellar Door & Restaurant.
In addition to wine tasting at the cellar door overlooking the beautiful Wairau Valley, Wither Hills offer a selection of different experiences which will immerse you in the passionate winemaking process of Wither Hills. In addition to taking a tour of the winery, you can play the role of winemaker with the Wine Blending Experience and discover the thrill and intricacy of blending your own unique Pinot Noir.
Right on the picturesque Hurunui vineyard bike trail, you can enjoy a wine tasting in the very place the was grown, made and bottled, or experience the ever popular four course five wine long lunch at Greystone Cellar Door & Eatery.
Recommend booking in advance.
In the heart of Gibbston lies Kinross Cellar Door, Restaurant & Vineyard Accommodation. Showcasing wines from high end boutique producers that do not have their own Cellar Doors allows guests an exclusive experience of the wines produced in Central Otago – New Zealand’s southernmost wine region.
Guests hear stories from knowledgeable Wine Advisors about the remarkable stories behind each of the five wine labels*, tales of triumph (and disaster) from the early days when the first vines were planted, what makes these wines unique and so sought after internationally.
Nestled amongst Kinross’ very own Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris vines, with views of the vineyards and surrounding mountains are the Vineyard Cottages. You’ll also have the use of Kinross’ outdoor hot tub, where you can soak up the Southern sky and sip on your favourite drop – the perfect way to keep warm while enjoying the winter night sky.
Bookings are highly recommended.
*Five wine labels are Coal Pit, Hawkshead, Kinross, Valli and Wild Irishman.
Nestled amongst the vines of a 14-hectare certified organic vineyard, the Domaine Thomson Cellar Door sits on a natural platform above the vines with panoramic views across the vineyard and Cromwell Basin to Lake Dunstan.
Spaces at Domaine Thomson are cosy and private, with a series of small windows affording views to the outdoors. These rooms recall the experience of musterers’ huts, and how early settlers in the area would have viewed the landscape when taking shelter from the weather. Settle around the fireplace and immerse yourself in the stunning landscape.
Relaxed, rustic, and intimate, the private homestyle platter lunch at the Cellar Door in the heart of Central Otago is a superb experience. Family groups and friends are invited to explore the outstanding space, soak up the stunning environment and graze on a long lunch attended to by seasoned professionals.
Private Lunch Experience bookings are essential – minimum five-day notice required.
Cellar Door Tips
- Plan - do not plan too many tastings for the day. On average, plan to spend 1.5-2 hours at each place, and include your travel time between location.
- Book ahead - some cellar doors are by appointment only, and for others opening hours may change seasonally, so if you are keen to visit a particular winery it is always a good idea to call ahead to confirm availability.
- Getting around - ensure you have a designated driver, or alternatively, there are plenty of wine tour operators who can take people on bespoke or pre-arranged tours.
- Pre-book - winery restaurants are extremely popular and often walk-ins are turned away.
- Allow time - good wine and food takes time – enjoy it!
- Many wine regions are cycle friendly, and well set up for biking visitors. Walking between vineyards are also options.
- Research and plan ahead – you do not want to miss out on something exciting because you have to leave!
- Stay on site so no driving needed! There are plenty of places you can sleep among the vines, check them out here.
- If you do stay on site, take comfortable shoes and a warm jacket, so you can make the most of night-time strolls where it’s just you and the vines.