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  • Date publishedMonday, February 8, 2021

Volcanic Hills Wine Tasting - New Zealand (Feb. 2020)

Volcanic Hills Winery
On a lovely during my visit to New Zealand last year, I was in Rotorua, a hot tourist spot on the North Island, about 2 hours away from Auckland and came across Volcanic Hills Winery.

Volcanic Hills was founded in 2009 using borrowed winery space. The brand was born from the Volcanic Plateau that is surrounded by the volcanic peaks of Ngauruhoe, Ruapehu, and Tarawera. The winery's own production facility opened in 2013 and sits at the base of the Skyline Gondola, while the Tasting Room, which opened in 2012, is located at the top of the Skyline Gondola and offers a gorgeous view of Lake Rotorua.

The winery was set up by Winemaker Brent Park and his wife Larissa. Brent went to school in Rotorua and has lived and worked in and around New Zealand for many years. He followed that up with winemaking stints in South Africa, USA, Australia and France. With over 20 years of winemaking experience, Brent decided to settle in Rotorua and make it a tourist attraction.

Volcanic Hills Winery

In case you didn't know, there are actually no grapes in Rotorua, so they source their grapes from the best wine regions in New Zealand such as Marlborough, Hawke's Bay, and Central Otago and bring them to Rotorua. The grapes arrive fresh and cold, de-stemmed by machine - the stems are then provided as feed to the animals - and continue their journey to become fine wine.

Volcanic Hills Winery is very much a small, boutique winery, with a total annual production of 5,500 cases, and all of the wines are hand-crafted in small batches. My server for the tasting, Annie, took me through a tasting of a few wines from their portfolio. Wine reviews of my favourites are provided below.

Wines from Volcanic Hills Winery have appeared at the LCBO, but the for the moment they can be ordered through their Agent - Wilson Wines & Spirits.

Tasting Notes:

VOLCANIC HILLS CHARDONNAY 2017 - Hawke's Bay, North Island, New Zealand (XD) - $29 NZD
Having spent 10 months in new French oak, this Chardonnay has a rich, medium-high intensity nose that has buttery, buttered popcorn, and vanilla aromas layered over stone fruit and apple notes. It's medium-full to full-bodied on the rich palate with more buttery, vanilla, buttered popcorn, and apple flavours. Notable oak influence is nicely integrated. The long, balanced finish has more buttery, apple, and vanilla notes. Score: 89 pts

Volcanic Hills Chardonnay 2017 (89 pts)Volcanic Hills Syrah 2018 (89 pts)

VOLCANIC HILLS SYRAH 2018 - Hawke's Bay, North Island, New Zealand (XD) - $28 NZD
The medium-high intensity nose offers lovely raspberry, red berry, and plum aromas with hints of peppery spice, oak, and earthy nuances. It's medium+ bodied with light, supple tannins on the palate and pleasing dark red berry flavours mingling with spice notes. Nicely textured on the mid-palate with succulent acids. The medium-long finish has dark berry and spice tones. Score: 89 pts

VOLCANIC HILLS PINOT NOIR 2017 - Central Otago, South Island, New Zealand (XD) - $37 NZD
My favourite of the visit, this has a pretty, medium-high intensity, and clean nose that leads with black cherry and strawberry aromas, followed by earthy, forest floor, and spice notes. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with very good fruit concentration and balanced acidity. Lovely aroma replays of black cherry, earth, beetroot, and spice come through on the flavour profile. Supple with smooth, fine tannins that have some heft. Long, spiced finish. A Pinot on the bigger side of the spectrum. Score: 90+ pts

Volcanic Hills Pinot Noir 2017 (90+ pts)Volcanic Hills Rosé 2019 (89 pts)

VOLCANIC HILLS ROSÉ 2019 - Hawke's Bay, North Island, New Zealand (XD) - $28 NZD
Made with 100% Pinot Noir, this rose has fresh strawberry, cherry, pink grapefruit, and citrusy aromas of medium-high intensity. It's dry on the medium+ bodied palate, with nice aroma replays on the flavour profile supported by fresh acidity and some tannic textural characters. Citrusy notes come through on the long, satisfying finish. Score: 89 pts


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