With COVID-19 impacting our travel plans and events, it's time for some pretty drastic reimagining of how to enjoy ourselves in the coming months.
It goes without saying that supporting local Kiwi businesses is very important right now. It goes less without saying, and is more just a personal opinion of mine, that really good wine is also very important right now.
Both of those things come together west of Auckland, where a secret but stunning selection of wineries are just 30 minute's drive from the CBD - no ferry trip or South Island flight required.
Perfect for a lazy autumn afternoon or that birthday celebration that got delayed during lockdown, here are some of my favourite wineries out west. Each vineyard features unique vistas of rolling hillsides, leafy natives and lush vines, providing a tranquil escape from the city.
Established in 1916, these guys are one of the largest family-owned winemakers in the country. Set in the picturesque rolling country in Henderson Valley, the Babich cellar door has some of the loveliest vineyard views in Auckland. You can taste their wines, hear their story and explore over 100 years of family winemaking in a beautifully designed space.
Founded in 1980, this is another family-owned winery that has a reputation for producing classic, regional wines, set in beautiful gardens showcasing native plants in the heart of the Kumeu wine region. A must-do: try their cheese and fruit or vintner's platters.
A simple and honest wine-making philosophy has won Kumeu River multiple global awards, most notably for their chardonnay. Kumeu River encompasses 30 hectares of vineyards across north-west Auckland, so visit their cellar door to find your favourite bottle.
Soljans Estate Winery
This Kumeu winery has been family owned and run since the 1930s. Check out the stunning autumn colours of the sprawling vines, and then sip the result in their cellar door. We won't say no to their speciality sliders either.
The Hunting Lodge
With a history dating back since 1868, this winery is situated on a unique 80-acre estate. Their grounds feature a cellar door, winery, roaming gardens, event spaces. You can taste award-winning gastronomy from celebrated chef Des Harris at their casual Lawn Bar setting or renowned restaurant in their historic lodge.
Here you can enjoy one of Westbrook's famous wine-matched platters while overlooking picturesque grounds featuring tree-lined grassy terraces, a tranquil lily pond and row upon row of vines.