The western slopes of our most populous city are New Zealand’s traditional winemaking region.

Here in Kumeu, Huapai and Waimauku are some of the long established and most respected wine companies in New Zealand. The Dalmation community was responsible for setting up the first commercial wineries, and in recent years a new generation of skilled winemakers have joined the original family businesses and revitalised the industry.

The region has mainly shallow clay soils over harder silt-clay subsoils or sandy loams. The most popular wine varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay, with significant plantings of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon as well. Some vineyards have been in commercial production here for 70 years and are self-sufficient in grape supplies, however most bring in grapes from Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough.

The western wineries are well placed for casual visits by travellers, being only 30 minutes drive along the North Western Motorway to S.H.16. This is typical New Zealand pastureland and more than a dozen wineries are set among pleasant hills, a short distance apart. The main grouping of seven are clustered around Kumeu township. Several are beyond Waimauku, up the Ararimu Valley, and others are near the end of the motorway at Hobsonville.

The region boasts outstanding rugged surf beaches, thermal pools and superb vineyard restaurants, offering a popular escape from the pressures of city life. You can sit back in idyllic garden surroundings and dine casually with a wide choice of wines. Some wineries have extensive picnicking grounds, children’s playgrounds, petanque and croquet areas. All have vineyard tours by arrangement and cellar door sales.

This is sheer escapism and perfect country fare only a short drive from the ‘City of Sails’.

Don’t miss out on the delectable fruits of the traditional wine masters in the rural west.