It’s not every day you get invited to a vineyard for a wine tasting, so I was delighted to receive the invite from Simon and Veronica at Mercury Bay Estate in Cooks Beach.

It’s about an hour’s drive from Coromandel Town, so I decided to take the family, go on a Sunday and make a day of it. First, we went to Cooks Beach itself to have a stroll and work up a bit of an appetite… the beach is a three-kilometre, gently curving white sand beach flanked by Shakespeare Cliff to the west and the estuary of the Purangi River to the east.
Captain James Cook spotted New Zealand for the first time on 6 October 1769 and was working his way up the east coast when he decided to anchor for a while in Mercury Bay and stopped at the beach which is now named after him.


The vinyard is on Purangi Road a short hop from the beach, with great views of the bay from its restaurant deck, and gently sloping fields of vines going down to the road.


In such a picturesque setting, some background jazz and the sun shining, it was easy to relax and let the afternoon float by. We opted for a wine tasting and an antipasto board. We tried a 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, a 2016 Rosé Pinot Noir, a 2013 Pinot Noir, and a 2014 ‘Red Merc’ which is a blend of Pinot Noir/Syrah. Hand-picked grapes are made into small batches of wine which can be enjoyed by the glass, bottle or case from the cellar door, and tasting the Pinot Noir that had come from the vines around me held a special charm.


Sitting there, I fantasized about a chilled glass of rosé and a warm afternoon on this sunny deck which would be such a lovely way to finish a day at the beach, so I am planning another visit later in the year… can’t wait!