I often get asked the question “We couldn’t decide which tour to book, they all looked so good. Which one is your favourite? To which I often respond, “well that’s a little bit like a nun when asked which is her favourite child in the orphanage.” I always reply “I love them all equally in different ways.” It depends on what you’re looking for, your time frame, the day of the week, and the kind of wine you like most. Whether you want lunch included, any extras like being delivered to the airport at the conclusion of the tour, and of course your budget. There are different prices because some regions are further away, so there’s time and fuel lunch costs or their tasting fees might be more expensive.
The regions are quite different, from the older traditional Croatian wineries in Kumeu, to the latest generation of winemakers and entrepreneurs that have settled Matakana and Waiheke Island.
They are all great, in different ways. I used to work in a winery in Henderson the main commercial winemaking region in Auckland in the 1930s when the industry was beginning to take shape. I worked as a winery Promotions manager, running the cellar door, in charge of events and promotions and tours through the winery. But when I wasn’t doing that, I was helping the wine maker, The Fredatovich family established their wine company in 1937, and on Lincoln Road in the 1970’s there were 25 producers including Corbans Wines, the 2nd largest back then. The largest, Montana Wines had their winery in the Waitakere Ranges, sourcing grapes from Auckland, and Hawkes Bay. I leant such a lot in that job. It’s all changed now. Marlborough rules the roost.
There’s also Villa Maria Estate, which is perfect if you’re short on time and about to jump on a plane. I’ll talk about them later