Marlborough Wine Tours
The Marlborough region is located in the northeast of New Zealand’s South Island.
This influential area is widely regarded as the place where New Zealand’s modern wine industry was born. In the late 1970s, the region began to produce the vibrant sauvignon blancs it has become famous for. This breakthrough inspired a confidence in winemakers throughout the country that New Zealand could produce award-winning wines.
The region’s sunny weather, cool nights and a long growing season produces the full-flavored wines Marlborough is famous for.
Critics have suggested the Marlborough region produces the world’s best sauvignon blanc, however its expertise do not stop there. The area also produces some outstanding sparkling wines, made using traditional methods from riesling, pinot noir, and chardonnay grapes. The region’s wineries also create a range of white and red table wines.
Most of Marlborough’s vineyards are located around Renwick, Cloudy Bay, and Blenheim in the Wairau Valley. Others can be found further south in the Awatere Valley, particularly around Seddon. The following wineries are regarded as some of the area’s finest.
Rapaura Road, Blenheim
This family-owned winery has won more than 100 gold medals at local and international wine shows for its sauvignon blancs, pinot noirs, and rieslings. While visiting make sure you take time to see the winery’s native gardens, a tourist attraction in their own right.
Cloudy Bay Vineyards
Jackson Road, Blenheim
Cloudy Bay Vineyards’ cellar door is open daily for tastings and sales. The tasting experience includes the winery’s current range and some special limited release wines. Their Te Koko, a complex savory wine using the sauvignon blanc grape, is a unique variety well worth sampling.
Saint Clair Estate Winery
Corner Rapaura and Selmes Road
Established in 1994, St Clair is a relatively young winery by this region’s standards. However, it’s quickly gained international recognition for its wide range of wines which include pinot gris, chardonnays, rieslings, gewurztraminers, pinot noirs, merlots, and the region’s specialty sauvignon blancs. The cellar door is open daily, allowing visitors to taste the standard range, new vintage wines, and some limited edition releases.
Waihopai Valley Road, Renwick
The innovators at Grove Mill made this Marlborough vineyard the world’s first carbon neutral winery. That means you can enjoy complimentary tasting sessions guilt-free knowing it’s good for the planet. The winery also offers some unique experiences, including an aroma demonstration, blind tastings, and a gourmet tasting session where the wines are matched to different foods. The vine library is located outside the cellar door. It’s made up of ten rows of different grapes, allowing visitors to see how each variety differs.
RD4 Riverlands (State Highway One), Blenheim
The Montana Brancott Winery opened its doors in 1977, making it the oldest winery in the region. From these early beginnings, Montana has grown to become the world’s top selling New Zealand wine. Visitors can enjoy daily tastings, winery tours, and delicious meals in the winery’s gourmet restaurant.
New Zealand’s international airline, Air New Zealand, flies daily to Blenheim from Wellington, Auckland, and Christchurch. Regional carrier air2there also flies to Blenheim from Wellington and Paraparaumu.
Other tourists prefer to catch a ferry from Wellington to nearby Picton. This allows passengers to transport their vehicles to the region. The Interislander and Bluebridge both run ferries several times a day. The journey takes approximately three hours. Once in Picton, most tourists take an Atomic Shuttle or ‘K’ Bus to their destination.
Many travelers opt to drive around the region using one of the popular scenic routes. The Treasured Pathway is a highway linking heritage sites from Picton to Farewell Spit in Nelson. Queen Charlotte Drive offers stunning views of Marlborough Sound’s bays as travelers make their way from Blenheim to Nelson. However, most wine buffs choose to visit Marlborough as part of the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail, a journey that links the region to the Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay areas.
Coach trips are also popular amongst tourists without access to their own vehicle, or those who’d rather let someone else take the wheel. Marlborough Wine Tours and Tours of Marlborough offer a range of trips to suit the needs of most wine tourists.
Blenheim is a popular destination for tourists staying in the Marlborough region, due to its size and handy proximity to the area’s wineries. The area has many accommodation options, from backpacker’s hostels like Grapevine Backpackers and Cherrycamp to the luxurious Antria Boutique Lodge and the Bell Tower.
The region also specializes in bed and breakfast accommodation offering private rooms with ensuites, home-cooked meals, and old-fashioned hospitality. The appropriately named Chardonnay Lodge and Marlborough Bed and Breakfast offer great value for money.
Marlborough Wine Events
Every February – The Marlborough Wine Festival allows visitors to indulge in the area’s best wine and cuisine, while being entertained by some of the country’s leading performers.
Every second October – The Marlborough Wine Weekend offers 300 lucky guests the chance to enjoy new release tasting, winery tours, and memorable dining experiences with more than 30 of the area’s best winemakers.