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February 11, 2013

Wine Tasting in West Auckland

Last week I took a day off writing and went on a wine tasting tour with Barry’s Wine Tours. After managing to cause a little chaos, (I got lost and went to the wrong meeting point) we headed to Kumeu, a region I’d only driven through before. Twenty minutes after leaving Central Auckland, we were in the countryside.

Our first stop was Soljans Estate Winery. This is one of our oldest wineries, and it traces its roots back to 1927 when Bartul Soljan arrived from Croatia and started his vineyard.

Pinot Noir Vines 

Most of the vines are covered with nets at present to protect the grapes from marauding birds. The roses were traditionally planted at the end of rows because they show signs of disease first, before the grape vines. They’re sort of like canaries down in a mine. The red roses signify the red grape varieties and yellow roses were planted at the head of rows of white grapes.

Pinot Gris Vines

The merlot grapes weren’t doing well, so the vineyard owner decided to graft pinot gris grapes onto the merlot vines. Experts were brought in from France to do the specialist work. Below the white tape, the grape is a merlot vine. A bud from a pinot gris (white grape) was grafted into the area and has grown into a new vine.

Stainless Wine Barrels

The business end of the vineyard. These are stainless steel casks that hold the wine.

Wine Bottling Machine

This is one of the wine bottling machines. The labels come next.

Wine Tasting Room

Tasting is the fun part of the tour. We tried six different wines, white and red. There are crackers and water to cleanse the palate between varieties of wine. Some people can be snobby about wine. My opinion – if I like the wine then it’s a good one!


This is a photo of West Brook Winery, the second vineyard we visited. As you can see the grounds are gorgeous and perfect to take the family for a picnic on a Sunday afternoon.

The day was lots of fun and the perfect way to recharge my writing batteries.

Where would you go if you have a day off to recharge?


  1. Mary Kirkland

    I didn’t know that about the rose bushes, very interesting.

    I think I would go to the movies. I love going somewhere and just kicking back and relaxing.

    • Shelley Munro

      Yes, the roses get the same fungal disease but succumb more quickly than the vines.

  2. Heather

    Sounds like you had a fun time. There is a prominent vineyard not far from Madison, and though friends and I have sampled some of their wines, we’ve somehow never managed to make one of the tours.

    • Shelley Munro

      It’s strange how we never do things that are right in our backyards. Last year I started doing things that I’d thought about and never done. I’ve been wine tasting in two different places and went dolphin watching. It’s been fun.

  3. Brinda Berry

    Why, I’d accompany you to a wine tasting, of course.

    • Shelley Munro

      I bet we’d have fun :)

  4. Gerri Bowen

    If I lived near that winery, I’d go there. That would be a nice, relaxing day. :)

    • Shelley Munro

      Most of them have cafes or gorgeous grounds where you can relax with a picnic. It’s always a fun day out.

  5. Angela Brown

    A day out wine tasting sounds like a lovely way to recharge.

    Don’t tell anyone, but the working author gig can be tiring sometimes so I’d probably lose myself in my bed and dream of rainbows and unicorns.

  6. Carol Kilgore

    I loved reading about this! Great photos, too. And I share your opinion of wine – if it tastes good to me, I like it :)

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