Meet Mel, the founder of Wineheke Island Adventures

Choosing a name for your business can be a big task and today I’d like to introduce you to someone who has certainly nailed just that!

Meet Mel Smith, the founder of Wineheke, offering wine fuelled personal adventures on beautiful Waiheke Island!

Hi Mel, thanks a lot for your time today…

Please tell us about Wineheke. When & why did you start it?
I began thinking about the concept for Wineheke upon moving to Waiheke Island in 2013. I thought the term was clever and endearing and deserved to be a tagline for Waiheke wines. I love wine, I am very passionate about Waiheke Island so I wanted to create a job where I could marry the two, hence the idea for hosting unique island adventures was born.

I wanted to have the opportunity to share my love of the island and its wine with visitors to the island from a local’s perspective – as I know when I am travelling I don’t like to do off-the-shelf packages, I much prefer chatting to the locals and going to the spots they recommend.

You organise island wine adventures: who should book those and what can they look forward to?
People who have a passion or an interest in wine and who like to talk to locals and discover places more from a local perspective. We create unique island adventures so that nothing we offer is an off-the-shelf packaged experience. A Wineheke island adventure is tailored to meet YOUR needs and you will be delighted!

Tell us a bit about yourself
I am proud to live on Waiheke Island in a beautiful home surrounded by native bush with my amazing husband and cat. We moved from the Auckland city fringe in 2013 to the island and have not once looked back. I come from a background in PR and events but have made a living on Waiheke out of doing what I love most, which is hosting unique wine experiences and dog walking which is my other job here!

mel wineheke

What’s your wine connection?
My husband introduced me to wine when we first met back when I was 18. The first varietal I fell in love with was chardonnay and from there my palette has expanded to love and appreciate all wines! I have always loved wine tasting and have spent many holidays travelling around New Zealand and abroad discovering different wine regions. It is absolutely my most favourite leisure activity to partake in and I recall discussing with my husband back in the year 2002 the prospect of hosting luxury wine tours across New Zealand as a business.

What’s so special about New Zealand wine?
There are so many exciting people working in New Zealand wine and we are creating so many outstanding wines. I am extremely proud of the Waiheke wines, in my opinion the Syrah’s and Chardonnay’s being produced are particularly exceptional.

What’s your favourite New Zealand wine at the moment?
Ooooh there are so many but I am really loving the Obsidian Reserve Chardonnay at the moment.

If you were a wine, what wine would you be?
Haha, I think my friends would definitely say Rosé & in particular, the Man O’ War Pique rosé, as I am obsessed with the colour pink and I am easy on the palette haha and adore the sunshine.

Wine & dine, what’s your favourite match?
Chardonnay with roast chicken and salmon with rosé!

Share a fact about Waiheke that only a few know
Apparently Waiheke has more dogs per capita than anywhere else in New Zealand! Which is quite obvious when you get here. I swear my husband and I the only ones on the island who don’t own a dog!

Hidden gems and favourite spots on Waiheke?
Well I’m not sure its much of a secret anymore but Te Motu is our absolute favourite for dining. Such gorgeous food, incredible wine, friendly staff and all in the most beautiful relaxed rural vineyard setting. It’s my happy place! My other happy place is Island Gelato for the yummiest coffee and handmade gelato and now The Annex which is another adorable little coffee house and cake shop. For beautiful bays and beaches a bit off the beaten track I adore Pearl Bay and Cactus Bay.

Things you still want to do
In terms of things to do on Wineheke I still have a list including attending the local museum as well as visiting some of the smaller boutique vineyards that I haven’t had a chance to get to yet, particularly Awaroa & Jurassic Ridge which are both organic vineyards.

Last book read
‘French women for all seasons’ – I am obsessed with reading about living in France and the French culture

Advice on buying wine
As much as I love international wines I do pretty much always opt to buy local. When browsing the shelves I recommend that you trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to ask questions and try something new.

Dead or alive, who would you like to share a glass of vino with?
I know when Beyonce was in New Zealand she was spotted drinking Gibbston Valley‘s incredible pinot gris at Soul in Auckland. So I would love to share a glass of that with her.

Make sure you visit Wineheke’s website and follow Mel on Instagram | Facebook and Twitter.


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