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Sips in the city: New Zealand’s best urban wine experiences


This was originally posted on Neatplaces.co.nz and has been republished with permission.

All over New Zealand, we are blessed with incredible wine experiences in our own urban backyard.

Whatever your wine preference, from a classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc to a Central Otago Pinot Noir or perhaps an interesting blend from a distant European vineyard, you don’t have to travel far to taste and taste. a drink or two (responsibly of course!).

It could be a tasting flight at a cozy wine bar or an afternoon spent hopping between urban wine spots, learning more and delighting your palate. And of course, it’s not just great wines that make up these experiences, but the thoughtful food options that often accompany a tasting or make up a long winery lunch experience.

Think carefully assembled cheese platters and plenty of platters you can’t refuse. So the next time you need a little escape, why not try one of these places nearby.

* Nine of the best cellar doors in Hawke’s Bay
* Five of Gibbston’s top wineries
* Three of the best Central Otago cellar doors

The Urban Cellar

The winery lives inside Napier's National Tobacco Company Art Deco building.

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The winery lives inside Napier’s National Tobacco Company Art Deco building.

3 Ossian Street, Napier, Hawke’s Bay

Hawke’s Bay is renowned for wine making and many amazing vineyards. If you find yourself in Napier, with limited time and still want an amazing wine experience, why not try The Urban Winery.

Located in the historic Art Deco building of the National Tobacco Company in Napier, it is home to Tony Bish Wines and the cellar door also carries a range of wine labels from across the region.

A delicious tapas menu is on offer to accompany the wine tastings and the team here regularly organize events and live music performances.

Known Unknown

1 Davidson Street, New Plymouth

The Known Unknown team wants to make wine fun and accessible to everyone. They haven’t gone the standard route with their winemaking and it’s clear to see how they take inspiration from art, design, music and food, and enjoy collaborating with others.

An urban, New Plymouth-based winery, Known Unknown focuses on producing natural, lo-fi wines (and cider). They put a lot of love and attention into growing organic fruit and they are the heroes of it in the wines they produce.

Check out their tasting room if you’re in the neighborhood, there’s always an interesting drop (or several!) to try, along with a delicious variety of snacks.

Wellington Rally

Puffin is part of the Intrepid Hotel.

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Puffin is part of the Intrepid Hotel.

Wellingtonians are spoiled for choice when it comes to seeking backyard wine experiences. Let’s start with Puffinat my house at the bottom of the Fearless Hotelthis cozy and intimate wine bar showcases natural and minimalist intervention wines.

There are delicious little plates to enjoy with your chosen drop and eclectic decor that is sure to grab your attention. The next step is Amok, where owners Thomas and Natasha describe the vibe here as “a classy house party, thrown by us, our way.” With a wine list focused solely on New Zealand and Australia, a mind-blowing playlist and tasty food, this is a house party you’ll want to stay awhile.

Honorable mentions must also go to Newtown’s The next doorwhich is small but perfectly formed with natural wines on tap, Noble Rot Wine Bar on Swan Lane is a pure example of owners Josh and Maciej wanting to share their passion and love of wine, and Ascot pair hot dogs and wine – need we say more!

Auckland Skyline Tour

East St Hall is just off K Road.

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East St Hall is just off K Road.

In the sprawling metropolis that is Auckland, incredible wine experiences can be found throughout the city centre, on K Road and in the village settings of neighborhoods such as Gray Lynn and Ponsonby. Start in the center of the city is The Fuentwhich started life purely as a mezcal bar, this intimate space on Snickel Lane has expanded its offering and now also features a very impressive focus on wine.

Take a walk (or quick carpool) to Queen Street and in the K Road area you will find Celestial Bar and East Street Hall, both with interiors to admire and express. And with stunning wine lists to boot.

A suburb of Ponsonby is beautiful, think cozy but elevated neighborhood wine bar. Owners Diva and Logan have used their many years of experience in the hospitality industry to create Beau and the wine list reflects their favorites from New Zealand and Europe.

A few doors down is Annabel’s Wine Bar, head here for their appetizer menu from 4pm daily, you can’t go wrong with your selections – the food and wine are ‘the chef’s kiss’. If you are near Gray Lynn, be sure to head to Freida Margoliswhere there’s a buzzing atmosphere, bold wine list and consistently eclectic tunes.

Alexia Urban Winery

Alexia opens in the spring.

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Alexia opens in the spring.

197 West Street, Greytown

Alexia Urban Winery has been a labor of love and obsession for owners Jane and Lesley. Calling the Wairarapa wine region Greytown more accurately, winemaking here is one of constant evolution and learning.

Focusing on producing two different ranges for public enjoyment; Alexia and Tangente by Alexia. The first focuses on the drops of terroir, wines that will be produced year after year. While the second highlights emerging varieties, unique pieces and more.

This urban winery is family run and as such there is closure during the winter months, all the more reason to visit when open in the spring and summer.


Arden is a cozy and intimate bar.

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Arden is a cozy and intimate bar.

216 Hardy Street, Nelson

The Nelson Tasman region is no stranger to incredible vineyards, and the team at Arden make it their mission to celebrate the produce and wine of their region. Located in the heart of Nelson town, Arden offers an intimate and cozy bar and kitchen with an emphasis on imaginative seasonal dishes.

Their ‘by the glass’ wine list changes regularly to highlight a range of natural, local and international selections. You can also go next door to Porta Via, Arden’s younger brother, which serves as a wine shop and lunch restaurant.

Gatherings has a small, thoughtful selection of wines.

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Gatherings has a small, thoughtful selection of wines.

Christchurch Skyline

Christchurch is blessed with the Waipara wine region less than an hour’s drive away, but there are also so many amazing wine experiences right in the heart of the city.

At the Center des Arts, there is cellar door which has a delicious menu and wine list, but it’s their wide range of creative wines that make this place a must visit.

London is at the downtown end of Papanui Road, is a small but perfectly formed space serving larger small plates and a range of matching wines. Right next to it is Gatherings, a restaurant that has become known across the city for its focus on local, accessible and seasonal food. This same emphasis extends to their natural wine list and they have hundreds of bottles in their cellar. Here, every detail is thought out and the emphasis on nature and its preservation is omnipresent.

Back downtown, inside The welderyou will find Hi Hia tapas and wine bar inspired by the best of Spanish hospitality with a wine list featuring drops from New Zealand, Australia and Europe.

And watch this space for the opening of a new wine-focused pub called Downstairsthe twin of Twenty-seven steps (literally down the stairs from this New Regent Street favourite).

Tussock Hill Vineyard

Tussock Hill is a 15 minute drive from the CBD.

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Tussock Hill is a 15 minute drive from the CBD.

210 Huntsbury Avenue, Kashmir, Christchurch

Set atop Port Hills, with sweeping views of Christchurch and the Southern Alps beyond, Tussock Hill Vineyard & Cellar Door is a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city below.

It’s actually only a 15 minute drive from the city center and just a few hundred yards down the road you’ll find the suburbs of Huntsbury and Cashmere. This family owned winery has a reputation for excellence both for the wine it produces and for the incredible cuisine on the menu.

Favoring organic and local suppliers, the dishes go perfectly with each glass of wine tasted.