Back in 1851, Hawkes Bay was the first region in New Zealand to have a winery established, ‘The Mission Estate’. But it didn’t stop there, when it comes to wine production, Hawkes Bay is New Zealand’s second largest region, with a 50/50 split between the red and white wines, a fantastic variety of styles flow from its vineyards. The areas tops reds are Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, typically boasting subtle herbaceous notes and intense berry/cassis flavour.
Being New Zealand’s oldest wine region mixed with the fact the majority of vineyards are still family owned results in a rich culture with wild variation between each vintner and the ethos behind their bottles. Naturally, this has drawn the attention of the public and with numerous trails that highlight the artisan producers and Art Deco architecture wine tourism has excelled in the area.
Gimblett Gravels is Hawkes Bay’s wine area with the most fame. Although unplanted until the early 1980’s as it was common belief high quality grapes couldn’t be grown in the area, methods improved and tastes changed and the area come into its own. In 2001 winegrowers and producers united to form the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association, with this unity, the association was able to promote the areas wines to the world stage. The associations brand is based on the French concept of terroir, abiding by the strict classification rules, primarily governed by soil type. Gimblett Gravels was the first New World district to receive this designation, with the Gimblett Gravels wine growing district covering over 800ha, being stringently based on the gravel based soils originating from the old Ngaruroro River exposed after heavy flooding in the 1860s.