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Wining and Dining on Waiheke Island



Check out this account of an awesome October weekend on Waiheke.

Wine, food, olive oil. They left wishing they had longer.

We arrived the morning after everyone else and almost didn’t land because the extreme weather had whipped up the 
Winery in Waihekeseas on the final open sea approach to Matiatia Bay and the wharf. It’s always exhilarating to be dropping off the top of waves and crashing down into the trough below. Sadly we didn’t have the time to stop at Oneroa beach and collect some of the hundreds of scallops washed up by the storm. An opportunity missed!

The weekend was an enjoyable bus trip for our group of 18 wine society enthusiasts on a modest little exploration of Waiheke's galleries, wineries, olive oil producers, restaurants and of course the wines. If you want to invest in a Billy Apple 50th Anniversary set of 6 Waiheke red wines it may not be too late if you call the Waiheke Community Art Gallery in Oneroa. Click for a preview

Clearly we did not visit every winery in a weekend but here is a selection of highlights for us, wines and more.

At Peacock Sky Vineyard, passionate owner Rob gave us a wine and food matching experience. The food matches were thoughtfully and carefully prepared.  Rob really took the time to explain the matching which made this one of the best tastings you will experience. So a 5 star experience and apparently a great lunch menu also. We purchased a couple of excellent Cab Sauv and Malbec reserve reds to put away for a few years.

Azzuro Olive Grove is an award winning oil producer and they certainly are flavoursome oils. The production facility tour was informative, the location has sensational sea views and the ladies enjoyed feeding the cute faced Alpacas. Well worth purchasing a couple of bottles.

Te Whau Restaurant for Saturday night dinner was a top class experience. The food was superb, the wines from around NZ well chosen and the atmosphere crisp and modern. Set on top of a steep hill and facing Auckland, it was a spectacular location on a wild stormy night.

Wild on Waiheke is a good children friendly family destination. They have a range of wines, their own range of beers, excellent tasting sauces and condiments, and more. Stonyridge is next door but unfortunately we didn’t have time.

Passage Rock is Waiheke’s most awarded winemaker and they claim the best priced.  I particularly enjoyed their Pinot Gris which is a ripe sensual off dry style and a good price. This wine reflected my impression that Waiheke is making excellent, off dry, flavoursome easy drinking Pinot Gris.  I will definitely have this at the bar soon. Their 2010 Sisters is a classic Waiheke red blend and at $25 is a great buy. Better than Bordeaux at this price and has gone down a treat already.

Finally on Sunday we finished with a long Italian lunch at Poderi Crisci. This was the highlight experience for most of us. The afternoon started with a delightful sparkling Rosé, travelled through Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cab. Franc blends, and finally an appealing lemon infused Grappa, all their own production.  Every course was a good experience with nothing ordinary or lazy served. The service was attentive and wine explanations informative. A mid lunch cellar visit rounded off the experience. The wine production is small and the prices premium but this was the perfect end to our Waiheke weekend. 

We returned to Devonport well stocked and well fed and watered. It was our first such weekend on Waiheke and one to definitely repeat, next time with visits to some obvious omissions in our short weekend itinerary.  A couple of wineries are growing Tannat which is exciting for the future when they have commercial quantities. Look out for a selection of Waiheke wines on the Esplanade Hotel Lounge and Bar menu soon.

Rob Lauder -  Lifestyle Wines and The Esplanade Bar and Function Venue in Devonport



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