Wineries in Hawke’s Bay (Napier), New Zealand


At Trinity Hill, following the planting of traditional Bordeaux region varietals, Southern European grape varieties, Syrah and Viognier were also planted (here covered by netting to protect the grapes from hungry, flying birds); Hawke’s Bay, Hastings, New Zealand


On our second day docked in Napier, New Zealand, we joined a small group for a trip south to Hawke’s Bay, one of the country’s top wine growing regions, especially well known for its Bordeaux-style wines and Syrah (Shiraz).  Our explorations took us to three top wineries in the area – Trinity Hill, Te Awa and Elephant Hill, the latter of which was a grand setting for an al fresco luncheon accompanied by wines from the property.  [For background on Hawke’s Bay and Napier, see our two previous blog posts.]



In 1993 Trinity Hill, founded by John Hancock, became one of the region’s early pioneers, planting grape vines on a barren plot on the former bed of the Ngaruroro River, Hawke’s Bay, Hastings, New Zealand



The tasting room is adjacent to the barrel aging cellar at Trinity Hill, Hawke’s Bay, Hastings, New Zealand


“Homage is Trinity Hill’s Flagship wine. A wonderfully round rich Syrah inspired by the famed Cote Rotie of the Northern Rhone, it has consistently gained more “Parker points” than any other New Zealand Syrah, achieving  92  to 95 in its seven vintages.  First produced in 2002, it has been voted “Best Red Wine in New Zealand” by Cuisine Magazine and taken home the coveted Air New Zealand Awards Double – Best Red Wine and Champion Wine of Show.  Homage pays tribute to one of the Rhone Valley’s most iconic figures,  the late Gerard Jaboulet.  A long-time friend of Robert and Robyn Wilson – his wine dinners at the Bleeding Heart were legendary.  Gerard took John Hancock [founder and proprietor of Trinity Hill] under his wing in 1996 and allowed him to work beside him at the Jaboulet family wine cellars in Tain L’Hermitage throughout that harvest.  Gerard later told the Wilsons that John was the most committed winemaker he had had the pleasure of working with.  He said, with some surprise, that John would stay behind at lunchtime to hose down the cellar.  In those days in the Rhone, lunch was much more important than cellar hygiene.  As a mark of gratitude, Gerard gave Trinity Hill cuttings of Syrah from his famed La Chapelle vineyard, in Hermitage, and Viognier from Les Jumelles in Cote Rotie, and from these our Homage was born.  Like the Cote Rotie of its inspiration, our Homage Syrah is traditionally blended with a small amount of Viognier.  Homage is only produced in the very best years, following the warmest growing seasons, and in very limited quantities.” –



The vineyards of Te Awa, nestled in the heart of the Gimblett Gravels wine growing region of Hawke’s Bay, Hastings, New Zealand



The grapes at Te Awa were ripening when we visited, about a month or two before the spring 2017 harvest, Hawke’s Bay, Hastings, New Zealand


Testament to the intricacies of the natural elements the Te Awa Single Estate wines are grown on a single site in the sacred Gimblett Gravels, allowing true expression of the classic Hawke’s Bay varieties Chardonnay, Syrah and Bordeaux blends.  “Te Awa o Te Atua, The river of God — a reference to the mysterious subterranean streams over which the vineyards are situated and from which the wines draw their exquisite, yet subtle characteristics.  The quality comes from the free draining soil which consistently produces high quality fruit.   Walking the vineyard at Te Awa Winery you will see the vines planted in alluvial soils, typical of the area.  The single estate is made up of 151 hectares, 100 of which are planted in vines.  Te Awa vineyard soils are the trails of the old Ngaruroro River which meandered through the region until a huge flood changed its course in 1867.” –



The dining room at Te Awa, on the side of the tasting room, viewed from the vineyards, Hawke’s Bay, Hastings, New Zealand



The vineyards at Elephant Hill, with the Te Awanga coast of Hawke’s Bay in the background, viewed from the offices of the winery upstairs, above where we enjoyed a nice al fresco luncheon, Hawke’s Bay, Haumoana, New Zealand