From the vineyards of Dalmatia, immigrant families brought winemaking skills across the world to the green foothills of Auckland’s Waitakere Ranges.
For four generations these dedicated pioneer viticulturists tended their vines as the city grew around them slowly engulfing their productive slopes within dense urban conurbations.
Henderson now has a vibrant community of around 20 winemakers spread throughout this sprawling area. For the visiting wine enthusiast the vineyards could not be more accessible as some are within walking distance of Henderson City Centre. Four are located on Lincoln Road just off the Northwestern Motorway and two are in the Henderson Valley. Others are in Bruce McLaren Road and a number of secondary roads in the area.
In common with other Auckland regions, the soils tend to be shallow clays over a base layer of silt and clay with some sandy loams. The old established wineries have excellent modern facilities, producing prestigious award-winning wines made from grapes grown locally and also imported from the predominant growing regions of the country. Leading varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Semillon.
The welcome mat is out for all visitors with tastings and sales of premium wines available from the cellar shop, and there are elegant restaurants and cafes to entice you to stay awhile. It is fascinating to hear the early history of the wine industry, created by Dalmatian settlers who originally moved here after working in the Northland gumfields. While you are travelling around take time to visit the orchards, market gardens and craft shops of the region. Don’t miss the panoramic views of the city from the summit of the Waitakere Ranges, on Scenic Drive.
The Henderson wine trail is a must – a cultural experience to soak up the atmosphere in some of the oldest family-owned vineyards in the country. Be sure to sample some of the ‘Winemaker’s Reserve’ wines with their delicious fruity flavours.