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.
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.
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).
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