Three favourite New Zealand winery restaurants

Around 25% of all international tourists to New Zealand visit a winery, according to NZ Winegrowers. If you are hoping to tread the wine trail over the Christmas break I recommend you plan ahead by logging onto NZ Winegrowers website then click on “Visit Us” and use the search function to select a region and activity (such as sip, dine, stay and play). It’s a great tool for wine lovers.

I have dined at most (but not all) of this country’s winery restaurants. Here are my three favourites.

Head chef Casey McDonald at Terrôir by Craggy Range (Photo: Babiche Martens)

Craggy Range Terrôir Restaurant, Hawke’s Bay

This is the only winery restaurant that I have booked into for lunch and enjoyed myself so much I stayed on for dinner. It’s in a great setting next to a lake, vines and a forest with rugged Te Mata Peak in the background.

Craggy Range knows how to lay it on. The great menu changes with the seasons, the wine list includes an impressive depth of library wines and the service is second to none.

Top tip: Book for lunch, dinner and a nearby vineyard cottage

Most memorable meal: Patangata Station lamb white bean and salsa verde with a bottle of 2008 Craggy Range Aroha Te Muna Road Pinot Noir.

Black Barn Bistro (Photo: Black Barn Wines)

Black Barn Bistro, Hawke’s Bay

A very classy restaurant indeed, which has attracted me through its doors on many occasions. I’ve only visited for lunch, although it does open for dinner until 9pm on Thursday to Saturday. Check the opening hours and be sure to book. Black Barn Bistro is a popular dining spot, particularly through the summer season.

The restaurant flows out to and under a pergola of grapevines offering great al fresco dining when the weather cooperates. Black Barn has a Growers’ Market on site on Saturday mornings during the summer season, hosts music events in their own Amphitheatre and offers great local produce for sale through “the kitchen”. If you are really sensible you should book one of Black Barn’s top-of-the-line cottages at desirable locations throughout Hawke’s Bay.

Top tip: Book a cottage

Most memorable meal: Pork chop, macadamia, shitake mushroom, black garlic, fennel, spring onion with 2015 Black Barn R&D Viognier Sur Lie (a “to die for“ combination).

Outdoor dining at Amisfield (Photo: Amisfield Wines)

Amisfield Bistro, Central Otago

A super-stylish restaurant next to Lake Hayes and about 15 minutes drive from Queenstown airport. I’ve dined here many times for both lunch and dinner and can say, with considerable enthusiasm, that the food is consistently outstanding. You can dine indoors or out and the restaurant is open year-round.

Since I last visited the Bistro they have changed to a fixed but flexible menu that allows rapid seasonal changes and an opportunity to “forage” for the best raw materials. You can order a three or five course “Trust the Chef” luncheon menu and a seven course “Trust the Chef” dinner menu. Wine can be ordered by the bottle although the more vinous promiscuous diners can choose a “Trust the Chef” selection of four or six matching wines.

Top tip: Skip breakfast

6 thoughts on “Three favourite New Zealand winery restaurants”

  1. The Sounds Retreat Luxury Lodge says:

    We would recommend Hans Herzog Estate in Marlborough. Beautiful property with unique wines and superb chef.

  2. Garry Barron says:

    Bob, how about Pegasus Bay Winery restaurant, great list of older wines to chose and the food really good, more bistro than Amisfield. Agree on your vote for Amisfield.

    1. Bob Campbell MW
      Bob Campbell MW says:

      Pegasus Bay was certainly on my short list but I made no attempt to spread my three winery/restaurant choice around the regions, opting instead for a very subjective top three. If I’d stretched it to four I Pegasus Bay would be there.

  3. Bob Campbell MW
    Bob Campbell MW says:

    I haven’t eaten at Wither Hills. The other two are very good but neither reaches the standard of my top 3. However I do agree about the spectacular views from the Brancott Heritage Centre. I am currently writing a wine trail guide for Lonely Planet. The restaurants you list will certainly rate a mention.

    1. Mark Hubbard says:

      Then I’ll give a personal bugbear also 🙂 We meal in a Marlborough winery on average about every ten days, fitting it around a supplies trip into Blenheim, so we always look up menus online to choose … too often those online menus aren’t updated, even as to if they’re open over winter, which is really frustrating: if you have a presence online you’ve got to give it constant love otherwise you’re just wasting your money.

  4. Mark Hubbard says:

    Mmm. Admittedly I’m a bit biased, but I’d have one in there from Marlborough: I couldn’t decide between Brancott Heritage Centre (gorgeous location), Wither Hills (great chef currently), and Allan Scott (family run and you get great food and great service every time you go – never let us down yet).

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