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Mission Estate Winery
Kathy Sullivan

Mission WinerySummary: Mission Estate Winery in Hawke’s Bay offers a wonderful experience. The winery continues to be owned by the Marists religious group who started the winery in 1851. The winery offers a Cellar Door (tasting room) and a restaurant.

Visiting Mission Estate Winery is a delightful experience. The Cellar Door (tasting room) is located in the restored historical seminary building. Both inside and outside the architecture and details are fascinating. Walking through the foliage covered areas and enjoying the flowers seems contemplative, perhaps a sense of the missionaries and seminarians remains.

Mission WineryMission Estate Winery is located in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. The winery is the oldest winery in New Zealand and still under the same ownership. Religious missionaries came to New Zealand in 1838. With them they brought grapevines. Eventually the missionaries established a winery at Hawke’s Bay in 1851. The winery produced sacramental and table wines. Visitors can view a row of grapevines traced back to the original grapes planted.

Paul Mooney, winemaker, was trained by Brother John, a Marist who learned about winemaking in Bordeaux. Paul has been the winemaker for more than 30 years at Mission Estate Winery.

Mission Winery


The winery facility is surrounded by 18 hectares (44.5 acres) of vineyards. Mission Winery has grapes located in three separate areas of Hawke’s Bay. In total the winery owns 35 hectares of grapes within 20 minutes of the winery. The climate is conducive to growing grapes. The mean temperature in the winter is 10º Celsius (50º F) and in summer it is 19 degrees Celsius (62º F). The summer temperature can reach 35 degrees Celsius. Of the grapes used to produce wine, one-third are owned and two-thirds are purchased.

Each vineyard is best for certain varieties of grapes. The Mission Estate Greenmeadows Vineyard was first planted in 1910. The best grapes to grow in this vineyard are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Semillon. The Mission Estate Mere Road Vineyard was planted in 2002 with Merlot, Syrah and Viognier. The Mission Estate Gimblett Road Vineyard planted in 1994 is home to Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Mission Winery has contract-controlled vineyards in other parts of Hawke’s Bay.

Mission WineryWhite Wines

The tasting began with the Sauvignon Blanc Hawke’s Bay 2010. The wine was straw colored. The aroma offered tropical and citrus notes. There was citrus on the taste and the finish was crisp. The wine was produced with grapes from multiple vineyards. Sauvignon Blanc Hawke’s Bay 2009 was aged on lees for six months and was barrel fermented. The wine was a light straw color. There were citrus notes on the aroma. The taste was smooth with citrus nuances. The finish was crisp. There was 13 percent alcohol. Chardonnay 2008 had an aroma and taste of apple, pear and oak. There was a smooth mouthfeel. The finish was fruity with apple, pear and caramel nuances.

Mission WineryRed Wines

Syrah 2009 was ruby color with a very peppery aroma. The taste had spice and pepper notes. There were mild tannins on the peppery and spicy finish. Jewelstone Syrah 2007 was a dark purple with ruby hues. The aroma offered dark fruit and pepper nuances. The taste was of dark fruit. There were tannins and fruit yielding to pepper on the finish. Jewelstone 2007 was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. These grapes were from the Gimblett Gravels area. The wine was a dark purple to black color. The aroma offered dark fruit with a hint of smoke. The taste was of dark fruit. There were bold tannins with fruit yielding to pepper and smoke.


Mission Estate Winery is a strong proponent of sustainability. The winery has an environmental management program. As such they have received accreditation of ISO 14001 since 1998. They closely monitor water use and seek to reduce usage. Their power use is less than a quarter of the industry benchmark. The sustainable business model also extends to the community. Some of the community initiatives involves working with at risk youths. Brother John, who trained Paul, continues to work with the community even though he is in his eighties.

Mission WineryEvents

Each year a large concert is held at the winery. In January 2011, the music group “Sting” will perform. The winery estate is also a wonderful place to have a wedding. With picturesque views and a restaurant it will please almost any bride-to-be. The story is told of the woman who was so taken with the venue that she reserved the day of the wedding and then went to find a husband.

Enjoy a visit to Mission Estate Winery, take a camera and plan to stay for lunch at the restaurant. Taste the estate wines in the Cellar Door (tasting room).

Mission Estate Winery
198 Church Road, Napier,
Hawke's Bay, New Zealand






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