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New Zealand is a world renowned and respected wine producer, with ten major wine growing regions spread across the country. In part three of our Cruise Ship articles we introduce three very different wine tasting experiences based in the Bay of Plenty.
Mills Reef Winery
Mills Reef Winery is located in Bethlehem, Tauranga. It is only a short scenic drive from the Port of Tauranga where your cruise ship will dock. Although it has stunning art deco style architecture, the complex was completed in 1995 with the actual winery established in 1989. The Mills Reef brand has established itself as one of New Zealand’s premium labels, with the Bordeaux varietal reds and Syrah being their specialty.
The setting for this winery is stunning, making it a popular wedding spot in the summer months. Mills reef have full wine making and bottling facilities, two underground barrel cellars, an aged wine cellar and spacious wine tasting areas.
The restaurant is exceptional with a Pacific/antipodean style, and of course there is a Mills Reef wine match for each dish.
Mills Reef are open 7 days a week for lunch and wine tastings, they have brunch available on weekends and are open for dinner Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. If you do think you will stay for a meal reservations are essential in the summer months.
Volcanic Hills Wine Company
A new attraction for the Bay of Plenty, Rotorua now has a unique wine experience at the Volcanic Hills winery and tasting room. This winery is located at Skyline Rotorua, an easy one hour drive from Tauranga. This is a very new and exciting concept as visitors will be taken up the Skyline Gondola where they can enjoy a wine tasting experience with a stunning 180 degree view of Lake Rotorua and its surrounds.
The wine tasting and sales room at the top of the Gondola is now open, with the full winery and wine making facilities opening in March 2013. Here you can sample handcrafted wines from New Zealand’s most respected wine regions.
While you are there you can also enjoy a meal in the skyline restaurant, or if you are feeling adventurous try racing down hill on the fantastic luge - a part go-cart, part toboggan!
Located a one hour drive north of Tauranga, Ohinemuri Estate is a boutique winery nestled high above a river in the stunning Karangahake Gorge. Although they source their grapes from other regions, hosts Horst and Wendy make their own wine on site. They have many wines to choose from including chardonnay, gewürztraminer and riesling from Gisborne grapes; pinot gris and sauvignon from Marlborough grapes; and Bordeaux grapes from Hawke’s Bay, which make up a blend called Taniwha.
There is a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant housed in the original stables. Here they serve delicious dishes all made in the restaurant kitchen, including house-smoked meat, house-made sausages and bread, right down to the vinaigrette and pickles. Of course the food is designed to complement the range of wines. The Estate is open from 10am to 5pm daily. While you are there take the time to explore the unique walkways and tunnels of the Karangahake Gorge, an area rich in mining history.
All of these wineries offer their own unique wine tasting experience – and all are an easy car trip from your cruise ship in the Port of Tauranga. Visit the Rite Price Car Rentals website http://www.ritepricecarrentals.co.nz to see our fantastic deals for cruise ship passengers.