TripAdvisor Certificates of Excellence FIVE years running
Auckland Wine Tours and Food Tours
NINE GREAT REASONS TO CHOOSE
Phil Parker’s AUCKLAND WINE & FOOD TOURS
1. Voted EXCELLENT TOUR EXPERIENCE
TripAdvisor ‘Certificate of Excellence’ for 5 years running
‘Highly Recommended’ Fodors Travel
2. Boutique Tours at regular tour prices
(normally no more than 6 guests)
3. Your friendly personal guide, Phil !
fourth generation NZer – 15 years touring
published author, cartoonist & NZ wine writer
TripAdvisor review ” This was one of the most fun and professional tours we have been on. We didn’t feel rushed at any of the wineries. Phil is fun and interesting. Highly recommended. ”
Jason – Corona Calif. USA
4. ‘ Best WAIHEKE ISLAND Tour ‘ TV5 Canada Ports D’attache
5. New ! CRAFT BEER Tasting option
Visit a rural microbrewery for a tasting ‘paddle’
Just $USD 27 approx.
6. SPECIAL DISCOUNT DEALS AND MY NEW ‘MAGICAL MATAKANA’ WEEKEND Tour CLICK HERE
7. Free pick-up and return from your hotel or cruise ship
Lunch with Wine, Tastings, mineral water, wine notes
You pay NOTHING EXTRA
tours from $USD 132.00 approx = $AUD 185.00 approx
( Sales Tax 15% included )
8. Up to 100% money back if not satisfied
If at any stage of your tour – or at the conclusion of your tour, in the highly unlikely (dare I say it virtually impossible) circumstances that you feel dissatisfied with your experience – talk to me – and I will refund up to 100% of your fee.
9. Phil has written a renowned NZ wine guide
And … Phil has a new Puppy Mr. Merlot !
( Doggy Wine Tours on request )
Medium bodied red with distinctive nose and good legs !
Click Here for over 300 TripAdvisor Reviews ‘Excellent’ ‘Very Good’
Wine Tour Choices – Scroll Down …
AUCKLAND’S WINE REGIONS
Historic Kumeu region is located 25 minutes’ drive from downtown Auckland. Croatian immigrants began making wine here in the early 20th century and have become huge part of the wine scene in New Zealand, with companies such as Nobilo, Kumeu River, and Matua starting from humble origins. This region takes in Kumeu, Huapai and Waimauku, and is easily reached from Auckland city, down State Highway 16. Once at the end of the motorway it’s instant countryside. Horses grazing in green pasture, strawberry fields, apple and kiwifruit orchards, sheep, cows, fruit and veg shops and, of course – vineyards.
Waiheke Island, about 30 years ago was seen as a quaint, if somewhat backward isolated weekend retreat for the few Aucklanders who had a holiday home there. Yet back in 1978 Kim and Jeanette Goldwater had the vision to establish the island’s very first vineyard. And now, of course, many Aucklanders are kicking themselves that they didn’t invest in land in what is now premium, million-dollar-plus real estate, and one of the trendiest boutique wine regions in New Zealand. A tourist Mecca in summer, Waiheke’s wine, food and stunning Hauraki Gulf views draws both local and international visitors. The local population of around 8000 can swell to three times or more that number on a busy summer’s day.
Matakana in north Auckland is a very groovy, up-and-coming young boutique region with most wineries established less than 15 years. 50-minute drive from Auckland city, Matakana’s sunny north-facing hillsides produce ripe red wines from varieties such as Syrah, Sangiovese, Montepulciano and Pinotage. The white grapes Chardonnay, Viognier and Pinot Gris are also doing extremely well. Located on the Pacific Coast, with stunning views out to the Hauraki Gulf and beyond, this picturesque region offers a wide range of activities all year round from fishing to diving, a thermal aquatic park, swimming, golf, horse riding, and nature walks. Most wineries have food available, and the whole area has many upmarket B&Bs, cafes, and restaurants, plus a honey centre, chocolate boutique and Morris and James Ceramics.
Phil Parker – the Recommended Expert Guide for small, personalised boutique Auckland wine tours and shore excursions in New Zealand – with extensive local knowledge and personal contacts throughout Auckland’s wine regions – Waiheke Island wine tours, Kumeu wine tours and Matakana wine tours. Wine tours Auckland Kumeu. Wine tours Auckland Matakana. Wine tours Auckland Waiheke.
Kumeu Auckland Winery Tours: Kumeu River, Soljans, Cooper’s Creek, Matua, West Brook Waiheke Auckland Winery Tours: Peacock Sky Cable Bay, Stonyridge, Kennedy Point, Mud Brick, Obsidian Matakana Auckland Winery Tours: Ascension, Heron’s Flight, Brick Bay, Runner Duck, Omaha Bay, Ransom. Shore Excursion Tours with Cruise ship pickup and return.
VINES, COAST & COUNTRY MARKET
A truly unique NZ experience. Visit Four Award-winning Wineries – sample NZ Cheese & Crackers plus Tawny Port Sampling and renowned Vineyard Restaurant Lunch – with complimentary glass of wine, plus tea/coffee. Plus volcanic ‘black sand’ surf beach. Visit Boric Orchard Markets rural fine food store. Read More…
WAIHEKE ISLAND PARADISE
Prepare to be spoiled. Waiheke – “No 5 Destination in the World” by Lonely Planet. Includes Four guided boutique Winery Tastings, olive oil sampling. 5-Star ‘fine dining’ lunch– including complimentary glass of wine or beer, plus tea or coffee. Also a chance to experience a unique guided Chef’s food and wine pairing. Auckland’s Treasure Island of wine will enchant you. Read More…
Half Day tour If you have limited time in Auckland – this is an ideal 4-hour tour with a flexible start.. Hearty rural Orchard Cafe lunch – including a complimentary glass of wine or beer, plus tea or coffee and Three Winery tasting visits, plus Tawny Port Sampling – plus stunning ‘black sand’ surf beach views. Read More…
SCENIC COAST WINE & CHEESE
Half Day West Auckland wine tasting tour accompanied by selected fine NZ three-cheeses Cheese board. rural Orchard Cafe lunch – including a complimentary glass of wine or beer plus tea or coffee. Rolling green rural scenery, and Three winery tasting visits plus a Tawny Port Sampling . Also ravishing ‘black sand’ surf beach scenic views. Read More…
AUCKLAND CITY & VINES FAB FOODIE
The Ultimate Gourmet’s NZ Food & Wine ‘Foodie’ day tour in Auckland. Visit a ﬁsh market, fine food sampling, artisan Cheeses, NZ native ﬂoral Honeys, boutique Chocolate shop. Two vineyard guided wine tastings and superb Vineyard Restaurant Lunch – including a complimentary glass of wine or beer, plus tea or coffee. Read More…
Phil Parker’s Fine Wine Tours Auckland is the natural choice for personal and private Auckland wine tasting tours – Waiheke Island Auckland wine tours, Matakana Auckland wine tours and Kumeu Auckland Wine tours. Also Auckland group wine tours plus Auckland ‘foodie tours’ – Auckland food &wine tours. Private Auckland wine tours also available. Plus larger group wine tours to Auckland’s winery regions. Cruise Ship Shore Excursion specialist for small groups.
New Zealand’s wine history
The far North and west Auckland are where some of the first wines were made in New Zealand.
In 1819 Anglican missionary the Reverend Samuel Marsden planted the very first vines in the rich soils of Kerikeri and in the late 1830s Official British Resident James Busby produced the first recorded example of wine made here. It was a sparkling white wine and judged ‘very drinkable’ by a passing French official.
Then, from the turn of the 19th Century, a trickle of immigrants from what was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire (now Croatia) began to arrive here, in search of a better life – an escape from poverty and political instability in Europe. Into the 1920s and 1930s more and more arrived from the Adriatic coastal region of Dalmatia. They worked very hard – literally scratching a living, digging up buried kauri tree ‘gum’ resin from ancient forests north of Auckland. And it was very hard work. Iron spears blindly located the buried treasure, and then it was manually dug out of the heavy yellow clay. At the time, there was a thriving trade in kauri gum for making varnishes and glues.
These Croatian labourers saved up enough money to buy land. Some of them settled in the far north around Dargaville, Whangarei and Kaitaia, and a few intermarried with local Ngapuhi tribal Māori. The majority settled in northwest Auckland’s Oratia, Henderson Valley and Kumeu regions, where they grew fruit and vegetables alongside their family vineyards, growing grapes to make their own wine for daily consumption, as they had done in the old country.
These were the humble beginnings of some of our prominent wine labels: Kumeu River, Babich, Nobilo and Oyster Bay. Around the same time, some renowned smaller Auckland labels were making a start, for example West Brook, Soljans, Mazurans, Collards, Corbans and Selaks. 1961 was a particularly good year for our wine industry – George Fistonich started Villa Maria wines in Mangere, the same year that Frank and Maté Yukich began Montana (now Brancott) in Titirangi.
Today, the Big Four – Montana, Nobilo, Matua and Villa Maria – are all Auckland-based and export large volumes of our wine overseas, through the port of Auckland to the thirsty markets of Australia, the Pacific, North America and the United Kingdom.
Aside from small attempts at grape growing by French settlers in Akaroa and German settlers in Motueka, Hawke’s Bay represents the other major component in our wine history. Thanks to the Catholic Church’s Marist order of priests, the Mission vineyard was primarily established to produce sacramental wines for use in the Catholic Mass. And Mission Estate was one of our earliest commercial vineyards, with its first sales in 1895. Hawke’s Bay has declined somewhat in terms of production, but is still one of the premium red-wine regions – particularly the branded Gimblett Gravels region.
Into the 1950s and into the 1960s there was still very little demand for table wines. The majority of wines sold in those days were Ports and Sherries – sweet wines fortified with grape spirit. Beer had been the national beverage for decades. But slowly, over the years, and into the 1970s, the NZ palate became a bit more sophisticated.
Wine producers rose to the challenge and produced easy-drinking sweet unsophisticated wines like ‘Sauternes’ and ‘Rhine Rieslings’ from bulk-produced, high-cropping white grapes. In the mid-1970s, the notorious sparkling sweet red wine from Montana Cold Duck was seen as a very classy wine. Over the next 10 years, easy-drinking sweet-to-medium white wines like Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Muller-Thürgau dominated the market. God-awful bag-in-box wines were very popular, some not even technically wine. I recall a brand named Brother Dominic ‘White’ which was allegedly largely made from ethyl alcohol, flavourings and chemicals. Some of my worst hangovers and more regrettable incidents in the late 1970s are related to this beverage.
By the mid 1980s, because of over-planting, the government actually paid growers to pull out these vines, in the hope that they would return vineyards to pasture land. In the event they did rip out the old ones, but canny growers replaced inferior vines with improved varietal clones of the classical European grape varieties we see now.
By happy coincidence, having been established for around 10 years, and begun by Montana Wines, Marlborough’s Sauvignon Blanc output was gaining international acclaim. Planting Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot and many other classic grape varieties was encouraged.
The industry has since then grown exponentially, with what seems every part of the country from north to south exploring grape growing. Wine is now second only to agriculture as our largest export product, with Sauvignon Blanc still leading, but our Pinot Noir gaining more recognition to the extent that it is our second-largest grape variety.
Phil Parker is a wine writer and wine tour operator, based in Auckland New Zealand.