Record summer for seaside Clearview Estate winery restaurant
Many are saying that this year’s summer weather is Hawke’s Bay of old. For the team at Clearview Estate Winery and Restaurant, they can’t recall a better summer, and while the sunshine is playing a part, it’s the numbers of customers to the cellar door and restaurant that’s making them smile.
The seaside winery restaurant at Te Awanga has been “at capacity” for two months, with two record weeks back to back over the Christmas and New Year period that saw over 1000 people dine there each week.
“We can’t recall ever having such numbers and to have two record weeks in a row is fantastic,” says Helma van den Berg, co-owner responsible for the Red Shed restaurant and cellar door.
“We’ve been fully booked by 11am each day and with the long hot days, there’s been people arriving at 3pm wanting lunch. Often there’s been people six deep at the cellar door tasting wines. It’s been a testament to the passion of our team that they have worked long hours for many days in a row.”
The record weeks follow on from solid trading in November and December at levels not seen since before the recession hit in 2008.
“It’s great to think that maybe the weather and economic factors are coming right for Hawke’s Bay,” says Ms van den Berg.
Acknowledging that there are fewer winery restaurants operating in Hawke’s Bay than several years ago, Ms van den Berg says the business has worked hard to attract new and different customers, citing the move to small plates with wine matches as a contemporary menu option that has appealed.
Friendly Friday nights attract over 100 guests for pizza, beer and wine, and the winery has hosted a number of art openings. A new tent canopy has been created to cover the restaurant courtyard, shielding diners from the searing heat and the odd showers. It also makes the venue more attractive for larger weddings and other functions.
Amidst this frantic activity, Clearview was visited by anonymous Beef and Lamb New Zealand Inc judges who have since awarded a 2013 Beef and Lamb Excellence Award for consistently producing “tasty, skilfully composed and superbly presented New Zealand beef and lamb dishes”.