Far North in the South Pacific
|Black Bridge Estate Winery in Hawkes Bay (Chris McLennan/courtesy, Tourism New Zealand)|
All grey cement and light woods, with immense sliding doors for walls, the mod Takatu Vineyard & Lodge on the Matakana coast is about an hour's drive north of Auckland. The four-room lodge is surrounded by overflowing vineyards of Pinot Gris, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec and is only a five-minute drive from the beach, all natural attractors for honeymooners. (Two happy couples were canoodling there during my stay.) The town of Matakana is known for its organic farms and local craftsmen, hosting a big weekly farmer's market on Saturdays rich with food, music, and good spirits.
Heather and John Forsman, the owners of Takatu, which translates as "well-prepared," serve daily tastings of their wines thoughtfully paired with special cheeses and local fruits. My favorite was the bold Franc Malbec.
Down the road at Heron's Flight Vineyard, co-owner David Hoskins is the only wine producer in New Zealand to exclusively grow the Italian sangiovese grape. Originally from Philadelphia, Hoskins moved to the North Island 30 years ago and "saw no good reason to leave. So I stayed." Good thing, too, as his sangiovese was exceptionalbright in the mouth with a mellow, lasting finish.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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