I first stumbled across Black Barn Winery in New Zealand’s Hawkes Bay in 2011. It was a chance encounter but it was one of those perfect moments. Most wineries in Hawkes Bay keep it simple with a cellar door where you sample some of the best wines that New Zealand has to offer, buy a bottle or two and maybe a box of artisan cheese wafers and a jar of dukka. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this approach but we discovered that Black Barn has taken things to the next level and provides the perfect setting for a brasserie where you can lunch beneath a huge pergola laden with vines or sit in the airy dining room looking out over the top of the pergola and to the wine country and Te Mata Peak beyond.
Despite its semi-rural location, the kitchen turns out food which would grace the table of most restaurants that I have had the pleasure to enjoy in London – using the freshest of local Hawkes Bay produce but with a distinctive kiwi twist. We enjoyed every delicious mouthful and the combination of the food, a chilled bottle of aromatic riesling and the most amazing setting left us with memories to cherish.
On our return in 2015 I was worried that we might be disappointed, that our second visit might not live up to the memory of the first. I needn’t have worried. Our lunch in the brasserie was wonderful and furthermore the recently opened Black Barn Kitchen, which sells all sorts of local produce and kitchen and home-wares, provided lots of ideas for gifts for family and friends and even something for ourselves!
During the summer months Black Barn also holds a local growers and producers market every Saturday morning and also has an outdoor amphitheatre, set into the hillside, which hosts evening cinema and concerts. Black Barn still produces some great wine but has built a destination and is a great example of “place-making” at its best.