Best Urban Wine Experiences in New Zealand
All around New Zealand, we are blessed with incredible wine experiences right in our own urban backyard. No matter your vino preference from a classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc to a Central Otago Pinot Noir or perhaps an interesting blend from a far away European vineyard, you don’t have to travel far to sample and enjoy a glass or two (responsibly of course!).
Words by: Julia Rutherford
Photos by: Anna Briggs, Nancy Zhou, Delena Nathuran and Supplied
It could be enjoying a tasting flight at a cosy wine bar or an afternoon spent moving from one urban wine spot to the next, expanding your knowledge and delighting your palate.
And of course, it’s not just excellent wines that make up these experiences, but the considered food options that often accompany a tasting or that make up a vineyard long lunch experience. Think thoughtfully assembled cheese boards and plentiful platters you can’t refuse. So next time you need a small escape, why not try one of these spots that are close by.
Wellington Urban Wine Tour
Wellingtonians are spoilt for choice when it comes to seeking out wine experiences in their city backyard.
Let’s start with Puffin, right at home at the bottom of the Intrepid Hotel, this cozy and intimate wine bar heroes natural and minimal intervention wines. There are tasty small plates to enjoy with your chosen drop and eclectic decor that’s sure to catch your attention.
Next up is Amok, where owners Thomas and Natasha describe the vibe here as “a classy house party, thrown by us, our way”. With a wine list focused solely on New Zealand and Australia, a killer playlist and tasty food - it’s a house party you will want to stay at for a while. Honourable mentions also must go to Newtown’s Next Door, which is small but perfectly formed with natural wines on tap, Noble Rot Wine Bar on Swan Lane is a pure example of owners Josh and Maciej’s wanting to share their passion and love of wine, and Ascot pairs hotdogs and wine - need we say more!
1 Davidson Street, New Plymouth
The team at Known Unknown wants to make wine fun and accessible to all. They haven’t gone the standard route with their wine making and it’s clear to see how they take inspiration from art, design, music and food, and enjoy collaborating with others.
An urban winery, based in New Plymouth, Known Unknown is focused on producing natural, lo-fi wines (and cider). They put a lot of love and attention into growing organic fruit and they hero this in the wines they produce. Check out their tasting room if you’re in the neighbourhood, there’s always an interesting drop (or many!) to try, alongside a delicious spread of snacks.
Auckland Urban Wine Tour
In the sprawling metropolis that is Auckland, incredible wine experiences are found all over the city centre, Karangahape Road and in the village-like settings of neighbourhoods such as Grey Lynn and Ponsonby.
Beginning in the centre of the city is La Fuente, beginning life purely as a mezcal bar this intimate space on Snickel Lane has widened its offering and now has a very impressive wine focus too. Take a walk (or quick rideshare) up Queen Street and in the Karangahape Road precinct, you’ll find Bar Céleste and East St Hall, both with interiors to gawk over and ‘gram about. And with killer wine lists to boot.
A suburb over in Ponsonby is Beau, think cosy neighbourhood wine bar but elevated. Owners Diva and Logan used their many years of hospitality experience in the set-up of Beau and the wine list is a reflection of their favourites from around New Zealand and Europe. A few doors down is Annabel’s Wine Bar, go here for their aperitivo menu starting from 4pm every day, you can’t go wrong with your selections - both the food and wine are “chef’s kiss”. If you’re nearby in Grey Lynn make sure you head to Freida Margolis, where there’s a buzzing atmosphere, bold wine list and eclectic tunes always.
Alexia Urban Winery - closed in winter
197 West Street, Greytown
Alexia Urban Winery has been a labour of love and obsession for owners Jane and Lesley.
Calling the Wairarapa wine region home, Greytown more specifically, the winemaking here is one of constant evolution and learning. With a focus on producing two different ranges for the public to enjoy; Alexia and Tangent by Alexia. The first focuses on single-vineyard drops, wines that will be produced year after year. While the second shines a light on emerging varieties, one-offs and the like. This urban winery is a family business and as such there is a closure over the winter months, even more of a reason to visit when it’s open in the spring and summer period.
216 Hardy Street, Nelson, Nelson Tasman
The Nelson Tasman region is no stranger to incredible vineyards, and the team at Arden make it their mission to celebrate the produce and wine of their region. Found in the heart of Nelson city, Arden offers up a cosy, intimate bar and kitchen with a focus on imaginative seasonal dishes. Their ‘by the glass’ wine list changes regularly to shine a spotlight on a range of natural, local and international selections. You can also head next door to Porta Via, Arden’s younger sibling which serves as a boutique wine store and lunchtime eatery.
Christchurch Urban Wine Tour
Christchurch is lucky to have the wine region of Waipara less than an hour’s drive away but there are also so many incredible wine experiences right in the heart of the city.
In the Arts Centre, there’s Cellar Door which has a delicious food menu and wine list, but it’s their extensive range of creative wine flights that make this spot a must-visit. Londo is at the city centre end of Papanui Road, is a small but perfectly formed space serving up moreish small plates and a range of wines to match. Right next door, is Gatherings, a restaurant that has become known around the city for its focus on local, accessible and seasonal food. This same emphasis extends to their natural wine list and they have hundreds of bottles in their cellar. Every detail here is thought out and the emphasis on nature and preserving it is ever-present.
Back in the city centre, inside The Welder, you’ll find Salut Salut, a tapas and wine bar inspired by the very best of Spanish hospitality with a wine list showcasing drops from around New Zealand, Australia and Europe.
Tussock Hill Vineyard
210 Huntsbury Avenue, Cashmere, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury
Sitting atop the Port Hills, with expansive views across Christchurch and beyond to the Southern Alps, Tussock Hill Vineyard & Cellar Door feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city below.
In reality, it's a mere 15 minute drive from the city centre and only a couple of hundred metres down the road you will find the suburbs of Huntsbury and Cashmere. This family-run vineyard has a reputation for excellence both for the wine they produce and the incredible food on the menu. With a focus on organic and local suppliers, the dishes perfectly pair with each glass of wine tasted.
The Urban Winery
3 Ossian St, Napier, Hawke’s Bay
Hawke’s Bay is renowned for wine making and many incredible vineyards. If you find yourself in Napier, with limited time and still wanting an amazing wine experience, why not try The Urban Winery. Located in Napier’s historic National Tobacco Company Art Deco building, it is home to Tony Bish Wines and the cellar door also offers a range of wine labels from around the region. A delightful tapas menu is on offer to accompany wine tastings and the team here regularly hosts events and live music performances.
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