Twelve hours between flights into and out of Auckland provided a great opportunity to explore some of New Zealand’s more northerly vineyards. Despite only having a couple of hours sleep before arriving around 05.00, and with a forecast of rain and thunderstorms, I set off northwards in the dark and rain. The only trouble was that most of the wineries did not open until around 11.00, and so I had a lot of time to explore the surrounding countryside – much like the Scottish borders, and so very wet!
However it was great at last to see the vineyards and wineries at Kumeu River, Nobilo and Vila Maria (all pictured below). Fortunately, the sun came out amazingly for a few short minutes when I was at Kumeu River, and so I could actually get some pictures that had a bit of brightness and contrast in them! Their Chardonnays have long been one of my favourite New Zealand wines, and they are some of the closest New World wines to traditional Burgundies. Visiting on a very rainy day, though, emphasised the heavy clay soils on which the Kumeu River vineyards are cultivated, a marked contrast to some of limestone soils of Burgundy! I will have to look into that and explore further.
Not sure I would necessarily recommend driving a couple of hundred kilometres between flights in the rain, especially since to keep on the safe side I did not even taste any of the wines! It was privilege enough, though, just to visit!