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Published on : Monday, December 19, 2016
Waipara, a riverside town in North Canterbury, rewards the discerning traveller prepared to explore a little a deeper.Almost without anyone but the locals noticing, the Waipara Valley is becoming one of New Zealand’s leading wine and food regions.
Just off the main road south between Marlborough, you could easily miss the Waipara region and the beautiful produce of its fertile lands.Waipara – Māori for “muddy waters” – once formed part of an ancient seabed. This unique landscape blessed with an agreeable microclimate and a bunch of clever and creative locals is behind a growing reputation for award-winning wines and a flourishing organic food movement.
Let us introduce you to a foodie paradise that remains relatively undiscovered, yet had plenty to keep you happy.
Greystone & Muddy Water
Energetic farmers and winemakers, Angela Clifford and her South Australian husband Nick Gill share a passion for organic farming and permaculture in Waipara, New Zealand.
General manager of Greystone and Muddy Water Wines, Nik Mavromatis, is enthusiastic about the geology of the region, and believes grapes grown here can produce some of the best wines in the world. As well as pinot noir and riesling, the two wineries produce sauvignon blanc, pinot gris, gewürztraminer, chardonnay and syrah – all grown organically.
Belinda Gould worked as a winemaker before setting up Brew Moon craft brewery in 2002. The taproom and restaurant features street art by local graffiti artist Wongi Wilson and has a passion for sustainability. Belinda and son, brewer Toby McCauley, produce full-flavoured delicious brews including Hop Over Vine, a combination of riesling and pale ale; Blood Moon, inspired by a lunar eclipse; and Olé Molé, with a spicy Mexican flair. Wood-fired pizzas and delicious ciabatta bread, by local baker Rachel Scott, make the perfect accompaniment.
Established 30 years ago by Ivan Donaldson and his family, Pegasus Bay winery and restaurant features gorgeous landscaped gardens, and an eye-catching restaurant. Riesling and pinot noir are the main wines, while others include sauvignon blanc and semillon, chardonnay, merlot, and cabernet sauvignon. North-facing slopes, warm days and cool nights, and protection from the easterly winds contribute to the quality of the vintage. Awarded Cuisine magazine’s Best Winery Restaurant six times, Pegasus Bay concentrates on high-quality ingredients.
With panoramic views westward over the valley, Black Estate winery, tasting room, and restaurant are housed in a distinctive contemporary black “shed”. The winery produces pinot noir, cabernet franc, and chenin blanc grapes, and has been especially recognised for its chardonnay. Owners Penny Naish and Nicholas Brown produce entirely organic wines and food – “good for the body and good for the Earth,” says Penny.
Food Farm tours
Energetic farmers and winemakers, Angela Clifford and her South Australian husband Nick Gill share a passion for organic farming and permaculture. Their property, known as The Food Farm, includes chickens, ducks, pigs and a milking cow, as well as abundant fruit and vegetable crops – “the food forest”. Food Farm Tours include some wild food collecting, optional truffle hunting, lunch at a winery restaurant and a chance to get beyond the cellar doors of the region. Food Farm Tours run from October to May.