This popular wine-tourist treasure is one of New Zealand’s oldest wineries. It was made famous by the larger-than-life Tom McDonald, who began working there as a teen and later bought the winery, releasing the country’s first commercial cabernet sauvignon in 1949. The magnificent barrel cellar and function space (overlooking a large park that serves as a concert venue) is named after him.
Things to know
Since joining Church Road in 1998, winemaker Chris Scott has won many awards. In addition to the traditional Hawke’s Bay styles the winery makes, Chris has overseen the introduction of new wines, including syrah and viognier, and has helped to evolve new varietals, such as award-winning marzemino and sauvignon gris. Take a winery tour, which includes the underground wine museum housed in old concrete vats, where some of the oldest winemaking relics in the country are held.
Sample rare varieties such as marzemino and sauvignon gris, or try the magnificent McDonald Series Merlot 2013, winner of major trophies.
Church Road Restaurant
During summer, the restaurant offers a full lunch menu by local food heroes Dish Catering, featuring tempting choices such as 12-hour beef rib with creamy polenta and roast portobello mushroom, and confit chicken with fried parmesan and herb risotto. In winter, there’s a shorter lunch menu.
Hours Labour Weekend to April 7 days 11am-3pm; May-Oct 7 days 11.30am-2.30pm