Torlesse Wines gets its name from the Torlesse Mountains that partially encircle the Canterbury Plains. The company itself was founded in 1987, and moved to the Waipara region in 1991. Unlike many wineries, Torlesse is self-sufficient and does everything in the production process themselves, from hand-picking and crushing the grapes to bottling the wine. Plus, Torlesse was the first winery in the Waipara Valley to use screw caps for their wines; even though these are now commonplace, they weren’t always so! Many visitors come to Torlesse Wines on a vineyard tour of the Waipara Valley, which include stops at a few different tasting rooms. It can also be visited independently.
Things to know before you go
- Torlesse Wines have opened a “biodiversity trail” to the public. Visitors can walk or cycle along paths around the vineyard and learn about the local plants and their uses through signs.
- The Riesling produced in the Waipara Valley is especially good, with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc also highly regarded.
- Bike rentals are available from the winery, for exploring the Waipara Valley region. This can be rented per half day or per day.
How to get there
The Waipara Valley is around 37 miles (60 kilometers) north of Christchurch, which takes around an hour to drive. If you’re self-driving, follow State Highway 1 (SH1), and continue a short distance after the SH7 turnoff to Hanmer Springs. Alternatively, organized vineyard tours sometimes include Torlesse Wines on their itineraries.
When to get there
The cellar door at Torlesse Wines is open every day from late morning until early evening 5pm, including most public holidays. Early visits before 11am may be possible upon request.
Attend the Annual Waipara Wine and Food Celebration
Every year in February, just before the grapes are harvested, the wineries of the Waipara Valley gather at the Waipara Wine and Food Celebration. There are around 18 wine producers in the area and not all of them open their doors to the public (or have cellar doors or restaurants), so this is a great chance for wine enthusiasts to check out each winery’s offerings. If you happen to be in the Christchurch area in February, put this festival on your itinerary.
- Pegasus Bay Winery and Restaurant
- Waipara Springs Winery and Cafe
- Sumner Beach
- Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
- International Antarctic Centre
- Waimakariri River
- Orana Wildlife Park
- Mona Vale
- New Regent Street
- Transitional Cathedral (Cardboard Cathedral)
- Christchurch Tram
- Cashel Street
- Canterbury Museum
- Christchurch Arts Centre