The 2nd Saturday of February each year has the unbelievably good wine and food festival. With a major selection of world class wines and some great kiwi food to go with it (lamb, venison etc etc) you have to watch the waist line at this event. In February the weather is usually hot and just perfect for sampling your favourite grape.
Marlborough is a fantastic region for wine. It's most famous for it's Sauvignon Blanc, but to think that this is all that is produced there would be a travesty...
You can get Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gewurztramminer, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and a number of Sparkling wines... I've probably missed off a load!
We went on a tour run by a really nice guy called Barry. He is incredibly knowledgeable and is very well known to every place you visit. Our tour was the full day gourmet tour which cost $120NZ each and included a cream tea and gourmet lunch. We visited 8 wineries, a cheese shop and a liqueur shop. What a fantastic day - I can heartily recommend his personal tours. His gourmet tour has a maximum of four people on it, although we were lucky enough to be by oursleves with Barry. He also does half day and full day non-gourmet, which are a little cheaper @ $50pp and $80pp. It's much better than touring around in your own car (as it's dangerous) or on a bike (as the vinyards are often quite far apart). Furthermore, he will take you to some you may not otherwise think of visiting or he'll take you to any that you may particularly wish to visit. Check it out!
I was doing part of the Riverside walk at Blenheim, when I came across these Murals. I thought they were well done, and funny! so has everybody else who looked at them.
Located in Blenheim - riverside.
Seymour Square is where we found the Memorial town clock. The clock is unique, as it was built with various stones found around the Marlborough area. It is dedicated in memory of the fallen in WW1.
The nearby Memorial fountain which at night is lit in multi colours, is in memory of the fallen in WW11. All this is set amongst some very nice gardens. There is also a cannon, orginally from a Whaling ship.
Some other nice gardens are the floral gardens of Pollard Park/Waterlea gardens, which has Roses and native rockeries that border a pretty stream that meanders through the wooded parkland and golf course.
Plenty of nice private gardens throughout the region, many of which are open during the annual Garden Marlborough event.
A favourite place to imbibe is Alan Scott winery. Good wine and a nice restaurant (Twelve Trees) to while away the day in the sun. They have a very good Sauvignon Blanc, a nice Chardonnay and their Pinot Noir is getting better. Prices are quite reasonable, though purchases at the winery are generally more expensive than from my local supermarket.
The winery is split into two areas. A tasting room with plenty of wines to choose from and the restuarant. Tasting had a small fee ($2) last time I was here (Nov 2006) which allowed a taste of 4 wines. Since we had just finished lunch at the winery we were not charged and tasted a few wines before buying a couple of bottles. There were 12 wines to choose from so a good way to make sure you are happy with the product before you buy.
On the highway between Blenheim and Kaikoura, SH1, there are a couple of seal colonies. Just open your window and when you smell something fishy pull over and climb down to the beach. Keep some distance between the seals and you and you'll have a great couple of hours watching them swimming around and fighting over the best spot in the sun.
A very nice and welcoming place. We went on a particularly hot day which made the whole vista even better. Grove Mill have two labels, their name and Sanctuary which is a seemingly 'not so many frills' label which is priced lower the Grove Mill label but is quite nice all the same. The standout this year was the Pinot Gris - great with fruit of a bit or Brie!!
This is one of the original places in Marlborough. I bought a mixed case of wine in 1985 and with it came a certificate of sponsorship for a specific vine with row and plot number! These guys have come a long way since then and forged many international deals that opened doors for other NZ wineries. They have a large selection of wine with many award winners. The buildings are nice and staff friendly and knowledgeable. Last time we were there it was more like chatting with a neighbour than a wine seller.
These guys have some very nice wine but it is a bit overpriced at the shop. My local supermarket has it quite a bit cheaper per bottle. The Sauvignon Blanc is extremely good and the Pinot Noir more than passable. The only hassle is that Mudhouse is on the main 'wine tour route' and appears set up for a more 'hard sell' tasting for international travellors. It is still worth a look but don't expect the very laid back taste and chat that you will get at other places.
These guys do some nice wines especially their Sarah Jennings red which will cellar for quite some time. The 2002 was excellent so I'm looking forward to trying the next years vintage on my trip in November 2005. The other wine of theirs that I'm fond of is the Reisling which has been very good over the last 3 years. They have also won awards for their Gewurztraminer.
The place is nothing to look at when you turn up. Go into the car park and up the stairs. We had to ring the bell to be let in last year as they only have one person about who is very much in 'multi-tasking' mode. The tasting room is basic with the good wine the whole point of the exercise.
This place is quite interesting and takes its name from the 'Spy Station' dwon the road in the Waihopai Valley - looks like a big golf ball. The winery has its name spelt in morse code all over its buildings in honour of the spy station................ true!! Their wine is quite good with the Pinot Gris and desert wine easily the best. When we were their last year we were met at the car park by the winery's German Shepherd dog who showed us the way into the winery. Nice.
Cloudy Bay is considered one of New Zealand premier wineries and has several award winning wines. Their Sauvignon Blanc is probably their flagship wine and gave them access to many new markets especially in Australia where demand for other wines was created through their Sav. The shop front is high class and if you time it right - late October to early November - you can sample their entire range. Their wines are more pricey than many but usually worth the expense
A definite highlight of my trip to New Zealand was the wine tour that I took in Blenheim. I had booked my wine tour ahead of time by calling the reception at Hotel d'Urville and when I arrived everything was all set. I suggest booking a wine tour at your hotel/motel/hostel. The YHA hostels advertised wine tour bookings as well.
Our driver also brought us to a place that sold preserves as well as a distillery called Prentzels. This distillery was a wonderful surprise ending to our adventure as we were introduced to butterscotch Schnapps. I ended up buying a bottle to take back to the States with me and I am still enjoying it!
Blenheim is the base to begin your explorations of Marlborough’s wineries.
Tour the wineries and breweries with a guide, so you won’t have to worry about driving
Lunch alfresco amongst the vines - many wineries have a cafe or restaurant
Follow the art and craft trail to see a thriving creative community in action
Visit a distillery and see how it’s done - taste locally produced fruit brandies and liqueurs
World renowned for their wines montana have vineyards in Marlborough.
The most famous wine to hail from this winery is Montana Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, the largest exported version of New Zealand's signature wine variety
Montana's drive to equal the success of Sauvignon Blanc with a red wine is also centred in Marlborough. It's here that the company produces its award-winning Pinot Noir.
The Brancott Winery specialises in making top quality méthode traditionnelle wines in partnership with the House of Deutz in France.
The winery's Deutz Marlborough Cuvée was named Sparkling Wine of the Year in 1998 and Great Value Sparkling Wine of the Year in 2002 at the prestigious International Wine Challenge in London.
The winery's traditional oak barriques are used for the barrel fermentation and maturation of Montana Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay, awarded White Wine of the Year at the 1997 International Wine Challenge in London, and other premium wines.
The Montana Brancott Winery is also responsible for making the renowned Stoneleigh and Stoneleigh Rapaura Series wine ranges.