Drinking our way through Hawkes Bay

Collecting our bikes at Coastal Wine Cycles.

Collecting our bikes at Coastal Wine Cycles.

Before Joe began his first day at his new job last month, we needed to do one more fun activity to end the weekend with a bang! We opted for Coastal Wine Cycles, which I highly recommend for wine lovers visiting Hawkes Bay. Super fun activity, comfy bikes with no sore butt the next day, and a very helpful and friendly staff. For just $30 (since we arrived late in the day), we rented bikes and toured several wineries along the coast.

And best of all, most of the tastings here are free! We peddled along the limestone path, admiring the Pacific Ocean to our left and rows of grapes to our right.

Our first stop was Te Awanga Estate. Their cellar door had a super friendly and laid back vibe. We sat on the back deck (or as kiwis say, "the dick"), sipping wine and admiring amazing views overlooking the the rows of grapes and the ocean. One Sunday each month, they also hold Sunday Sessions where you can enjoy wine and live music on their lawn. Their next concert is March 16, which I definitely plan on attending!

Enjoying our first stop at Te Awanga Estates. From their outdoor deck you can enjoy wine, nibbles and a view of the Pacific Ocean.

Enjoying our first stop at Te Awanga Estates. From their outdoor deck you can enjoy wine, nibbles and a view of the Pacific Ocean.

With each tasting, my head felt a little heavier, and I attempted to rehydrate with the water in my bike basket (thank you Wine Cycles for thinking of that).

Heading home from Clearview. We will definitely be back!

Heading home from Clearview. We will definitely be back!

At our last winery stop, Clearview Estate Winery, we made a new friend. Lucy is a witty and sarcastic British woman who has lived in New Zealand for many years now. We watched as she served a loud American group who seemed to be hogging all of the attention… and the wine. ;) They bought 12 cases! Which is more than I can say for myself, so we waited patiently for a tasting.

Joe finally captured Lucy’s attention when he sneaked a piece of chocolate -- meant to be paired with their dessert wine -- from a bowl on the counter. She slapped his hand and hid the bowl under the counter. And I knew we would get along wonderfully. With a cheeky grin, Joe looked up and said, “You know, you remind me of my mum.” Soon they got talking about England, as she filled our glasses and we enjoyed an array of wines.

My absolute favorite wine was their Sea Red – meant to be paired with those little bits of dark chocolate. The rich and weighty taste of berries literally melted on my tongue. Before we left, Lucy invited us back for Friendly Fridays, which we’ve since attended 3 times. Clearview serves pizza and wine, and the locals come out to enjoy live music. We will definitely be making this a part of our Hawkes Bay traditions, and we are so thankful to Lucy for her friendliness and hospitality!

Gabrielle and I enjoying a little wine and pizza at Friendly Friday.

Gabrielle and I enjoying a little wine and pizza at Friendly Friday.

Due to major gusts of wind pounding against our beach cruisers on the ride back home, we couldn't ride fast enough to make it to Elephant Hill before 5p.m. So Gabrielle and I returned the following day to find out what we'd been missing.

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Elephant Hill is a stunning winery and restaurant located along the coast. Its beautiful modern building is set against a backdrop of Hawkes Bay's rolling hills and the vineyards of Te Awanga. Inside, the large windows and white curtains billowing in the wind provide a spa-like feeling of relaxation in an upscale environment. I was surprised to see how many people had made lunch reservations on a Monday. The place was completely booked! So Gabrielle and I needed to see what the hype was all about.

After a wine tasting, Gabrielle and I selected the Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer (try saying that 3 times fast) for lunch and moved to the outdoor patio where we enjoyed the Winemakers platter, while basking in the sun and the breeze. Delicious!

Yum, I am such a sucker for cheese and meat boards. If it were up to me, I would literally eat a winemakers platter for lunch (at a winery) every single day.

Yum, I am such a sucker for cheese and meat boards. If it were up to me, I would literally eat a winemakers platter for lunch (at a winery) every single day.

All in all, it was a perfect afternoon with just us girls. I felt like I was on vacation, when in reality, we were only minutes from my apartment. And once again, I felt so thankful to have ended up in such a beautiful place as Hawkes Bay. The wineries and scenery alone make it a great place to be.

Now it's time for me to brush up on my wine knowledge. If I'm going to live in a place like this, it's time I become a bit of wine connoisseur. Wine knowledge welcome! ;)

Gabrielle peeking her head through the grapes. Should be time to harvest soon!

Gabrielle peeking her head through the grapes. Should be time to harvest soon!