The Wine Bars Winning Over Christchurch Ōtautahi

Bottles of red wine lined up in a row on a table.

Whether you prefer a pinot or crave a cabernet, we’ve got your guide to the neatest wine bars winning over Ōtautahi locals and visitors alike.

Words by: Julia Rutherford

Photos by: Nancy Zhou

Picture this… you’ve had a hard day at work, what’s a guaranteed way to boost your mood and lift your spirits? Answer - a cute, intimate wine bar. Or perhaps you want to celebrate a special milestone or a win of the week but don’t feel like jostling with the crowds at a busy bustling pub. Answer - a cute, intimate wine bar. You see the pattern emerging, any occasion or mood is the right one to seek out those spots where you’ll be poured an interesting glass of vino, offered perfectly paired snacks and enjoy an environment that you’ll want to return to time and time again.  

Autumn is an apt time to highlight the best wine bars Christchurch has to offer, with the yearly harvest well underway and growers eagerly awaiting to see what shape their next vintage will take. Many of the wine bars around the ‘03 work closely with local vineyards and winemakers to showcase the very best varietals and blends they have to offer. While others take on a more global approach and will transport you to the terraces of Europe from your first sip. 


Downstairs Bar

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16/22 New Regent Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch

Wine bars don’t come any cosier or more inviting than New Regent Street’s Downstairs Bar. As the sister venue to the revered Twenty Seven Steps restaurant (handily located just upstairs), Downstairs’s pedigree is undeniable and is fondly referred to as a wine pub. Part of owners Emma and Paul’s successful formula is serving wines they like, made or sold by people they like. Wines change out regularly and are listed on the blackboard behind the bar, order something that takes your fancy and move on to perusing the food menu. Dishes hero local ingredients and range from snacky to hearty depending on your appetite. If the weather is cooperating, nab a streetside table and take in the atmosphere of New Regent Street, one of the city centre’s true gems.

Cellar Door

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1 Hereford Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch

The building occupied by Cellar Door in Christchurch’s beloved Arts Centre has a fine pedigree as a wine bar. In years gone by (pre-earthquake days), it was Annie’s Wine Bar and that holds a special place in many a Cantabarian’s heart. Fast forward to the 2020s and Cellar Door has cemented itself as one of the best establishments in the city centre for a glass of wine. K

nown best for their interesting wine flights, patrons can sample everything from well-known local vineyards to little-known varietals from vineyards around the world. They’ve got cozy nailed at Cellar Door and it’s the perfect all-weather venue - come rain; set yourself up inside and admire the rich forest green and brick interior. Or come shine; secure yourself one of the picnic tables in the sun and soak up the history and sights of the Arts Centre.

Vesuvio

4 Papanui Road, Merivale, Christchurch

Vesuvio has lived many lives since it was first opened on Christchurch’s Oxford Terrace in the early 1990s. Since its inception, this jazz and tapas wine bar has relocated post-earthquake to Papanui Road, gone through renovations and recently re-opened to be back better than ever.

Each week there’s live music in the courtyard and while it’s often jazz there’s a healthy mix of blues, folk and soul thrown in for good measure. Vesuvio has a selection of fine wines, along with a great beer and cocktail menu. With their “slice of Europe” mindset there’s always some epic antipasti on offer to accompany your drinks. So check out the gig guide on their website and make a date to visit Vesuvio.

LONDO

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Unit 6/2 Papanui Road, Merivale, Christchurch

Tiny but mighty is an apt way to describe Londo on Papanui Road and you will be hard-pressed to find a more intimate and hospitable wine bar in Christchurch. The space is maximised at Londo to seat as many patrons as possible and everyone is made to feel comfortable and welcome. Host and master of all things beverage, Harry, has curated a stellar selection of local natural wines such as Lele, Vita and 15 Minute Bottles. He works closely with these growers and makers to showcase their best bottles and vintages. Pair this with some of the best food in the city by chef Robert Fairs and you have the key ingredients for a night well spent.

Gatherings

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5/2 Papanui Road, Merivale, Christchurch

Complementing neighbours Vesuvio and Londo, Gatherings (while more restaurant than wine bar) is an excellent venue to enjoy a glass of natural wine. It was the first spot in the country to celebrate natural wines and exclusively serve these on their wine list. Gatherings feels like an extension of chef Alex Davies's home kitchen and dining room. Informal and friendly service reigns supreme and the seasonally inspired food draws in chefs and hospitality staff from around the city - so you know it’s top-notch. Being in good company with their Papanui Road neighbours we suggest making a night of it at across all three venues, with all the more wine options to choose from!

 

Windows on the outside of a wine bar.

Salut Salut

5/20 Welles Street, Christchurch Central City

The Welder in the city centre’s South Town precinct is a hub for good food, drinks and atmosphere, and is where Salut Salut calls home. This wine and tapas bar takes all the best elements of a cosy neighbourhood bar mixed with the Spanish style of small plates and finishes it off with a superb wine list, showcasing wines from New Zealand and abroad. Perfect for a rainy weekend afternoon catch up with a friend, or the beginning of date night with your significant other. Salut Salut ticks all the boxes and suits many an occasion whether you plan on starting your evening there or make it the one and only destination.

Six Ounces

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178 Papanui Road, Merivale, Christchurch

Neighbourhood cafe Six Ounces pulls double duty and in the evening transforms into a chic local wine bar. From pouring flat whites as the sun rises, to switching gears as the sun goes down with antipasti, wine, beer and cocktails available. This Merivale haunt is the brainchild of owners Avi and Lois and they wanted to bring a taste of Europe to Christchurch, where many hospitality venues expertly blend the lines of cafe and bar. The space is intimate and friendly, you can even bring along your pups and they’ll be welcomed with open arms. The wine list features some of the best New Zealand wines as well as Australian and European labels. If you’re peckish, we highly recommend opting for one of their boards, they’re generously laden with all kinds of antipasto deliciousness.

Oulala

1027 Ferry Road, Ferrymead, Christchurch

Oulala in Ferrymead pays homage to the wines of France and at any given time there are over 400 varieties in stock to purchase by the bottle and take home. At the wine bar, you can try a selection by the glass and this changes out weekly and is listed on a blackboard. The team behind Oulala are passionate about showcasing French wines to Ōtautahi locals and regularly travels back to France to visit producers and source new additions. French cheeses and charcuterie platters are available to accompany your glass of wine, alongside specials of the day which are dictated by produce found at local markets.

Top tip, the owners also operate Fromagerie by Oulala just across the street, where they sell one of France’s other great exports - cheese!

Best Local Wineries

Now this pick might be stretching the definition of a wine bar, but we couldn’t leave out a quick round-up of our favourite local wineries - they are, after all, some of the best places for a glass of wine. Designate a sober driver and head north of the city to Waipara where you are spoilt for choice when it comes to vineyards producing stellar wine labels. For a drink with a view and world-class food, you can’t go wrong with Black Estate, or if long lunch vibes are your jam it has to be Greystone Wines. If you want a playful take on packing a picnic try Pegasus Bay and their Mini Deli or Georges Road Wines’ Craft Your Own antipasto pack. Both have excellent wine tasting to help guide you and your wine selection. And closer to the city centre, perched on the Port Hills, complete with stunning vistas, you’ll find Tussock Hill Vineyard. The food is delicious, as is the wine and while you can’t go wrong, we recommend ordering a glass of Pét-Nat, theirs is one of the best around. 

Notable mention: Frances Nation Cafe

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28 Worcester Boulevard, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch

Notable mention goes to Frances Nation Cafe and their summer Friday wine bar evenings. With a picturesque outlook from its location in the Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora, there’s no better way to end your week in the summer than with a glass of delicious local wine, sitting outside under an umbrella and watching the world go by. 

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Three dishes of food on a table at Miro in the old Caffe Roma building in Christchurch.
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Cafes key icon.

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Cafes key icon.

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Miss Peppercorn

Three different cocktails on a black table with straws.
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