Matakana is a very small wine region less than one hour's drive north of Auckland.
Premium wines have been produced in the area for some time and there are several new vineyards being developed.
Almost all the vineyards are on slopes, which helps to drain the clay soils. Traditionally a red wine growing region there are now some outstanding white wines - especially Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. However the classic red varieties of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinotage, Pinot Noir and Sangiovese have shown consistent excellence
The winemakers are a diverse community, approaching the business of making a living from wine in very different ways. Some sell most of the output through their winery/restaurant; others distribute their wine throughout New Zealand and overseas. Some of those featured here are open to the public and welcome your visit.
Wine has been produced in the Matakana GI since at least the mid 1950’s, when Peter Unkovich and his wife Norma planted Siebel, Palomino and Baco 22A at Bay View Vineyard in Snells Beach. They gained a winemaking license in 1961.
The first Vitis vinifera vines were planted in Matakana by Petar and James Vuletic in 1979. They planted Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec. They created The Antipodean label and subsequently went their separate ways in the mid to late 1980’s. Providence Vineyard was subsequently developed by James Vuletic and became focussed on a Merlot dominant blend whilst the Cabernet Sauvignon dominated Antipodean label remained with Petar Vuletic until sold in the early 2000’s.
Heron’s flight Vineyard followed in 1988. Ransom Wines followed in 1993, then in rapid succession, Brick Bay, Ascension, Hyperion, and Matakana Estate all followed in the early to mid 90’s. Most vineyards of this era had Bordeaux varietals as their red production – augmented by small patches of Pinot Noir, Pinotage and Syrah. The white production was centred on Chardonnay and Pinot Gris.
Positive reviews for several wines of this era supported the decision to plant these varieties and they have remained flag-bearers for the production of the Matakana GI.
In the late 90s and early 2000s, Heron’s Flight is notable as it removed all French varietals and replanted with Italian. Ransom Wines planted the rare Carmenere. More winegrowers followed (Takatu, Coxhead Creek, Ti Point, Greve, Mahurangi River, OBV, Gillman, Saltings, Matavino, Runner Duck, Hawk’s Nest, Merry Fields, Sculptureum, Contour Estate, Nola to name most) since then. This third wave of producers expanded the varietal field by planting Sangiovese, Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo, Albarino, Roussanne, Montepulciano, Tannat and Petit Verdot.
This movement saw an increase in plantings of white grape varieties as well as a diversification of red varieties – notably Syrah and the Italian varietals. Nevertheless, this development should be regarded as adding to the existing recognition of the GI’s capacity for producing Cabernet Franc and Merlot-predominant styles.
As of the 2017 vintage, there were more than 65 hectares planted and 21 commercial grape growing/winery operations within the Matakana GI. The majority of vineyards and wineries are family owned businesses, run by a small number of full time staff and generally owner operated.
There are 28 varieties (17 Red and 11 White) planted which makes Matakana one of the most diverse wine regions in New Zealand.
Matakana Oyster & Wine Festival
10am - 4pm sunday 8th october 2017 Woolshed, Matakana Country Park, 1151 Leigh Road, Matakana
Whether you’re an oyster lover or not the day will provide an all-weather celebration of local food, wine & delights with live music, shucking competitions, cooking demonstrations, face painting and crafts for the kids.
for more information see www.matakanaoysterfest.co.nz