More than 45 years have passed since Matawhero winery was founded; from the moment you step foot into the cellar door it’s evident that the history behind this iconic label has been preserved. Owners Kirsten and Richard Searle have left the tasting room largely untouched – think rustic wooden floors, beautiful leadlight windows and memorabilia passed down from Matawhero’s founders. The underground cellar is a gem, housing an archive of famed New Zealand wines and Matawhero’s earliest vintages. The tasting room is set on lush grounds, with tables under the walnut tree and a petanque court alongside the vines.
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Matawhero founders Bill Irwin and son Denis are regarded as pioneers of New Zealand wine, best known for the benchmarking gewurztraminer in the 70s that even the Queen enjoyed. Kirsten and Richard have stayed true to that history of innovation, incorporating emerging varieties such as grüner veltliner and chenin blanc into the Church House range of smaller parcel wines, while core varieties such as chardonnay, merlot, pinot gris and gewurtztraminer are under the flagship white label. All wines are available by the glass, or you can buy tasting flights, presented in racks made from old oak barrels, matched with a cheese platter or antipasto selection.
Matawhero has enjoyed recent success with their varietals but the modern-style chardonnay is probably one of the most popular. An excellent new malbec released under the Church House label is a must-try – intense in flavour, rich in colour and divine on the palate.
If you are planning to visit with a large group, call ahead to discuss further catering options. And check out the live music on the lawn every Sunday from Christmas until the end of February.