The small, unassuming unknown region of Nelson in the northern part of New Zealand’s South Island, is the quiet neighbour of the country’s largest and most productive wine growing region Marlborough.
Surrounded by mountains on three sides, the historic town of Nelson is settled in New Zealand’s sunniest region with picturesque landscapes capturing everything from golden sand beaches to unspoilt forests and rugged rock formations. The region’s unique mesoclimate is conducive to producing an impressive assortment of aromatic grape varieties – with Nelson wines made from Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gerwurtztraminer regarded as some of the finest from New Zealand – as well as staples such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Consequently, the region attracts hordes of visitors every year with the promise of exploring the beautiful countryside as part of Nelson wine tours – which can visit around 25 privately owned boutique vineyards that are recognised for their hand-crafted premium wines distinct from the typical commercial styles that brought Marlborough international fame. The best wine tours Nelson has to offer include exploring the countryside accompanied by a professional guide before sampling several vintages from exquisite wineries, which can often be enjoyed over gourmet meals at on site restaurants and cafes.
Visitors can discover incredible sights of natural beauty from renowned holiday destinations including the awe-inspiring Marlborough Sounds – an extensive network of sea-drowned valleys covering 4,000km 2 of sounds, islands and peninsulas that make up one fifth of the country’s entire coastline.
Nelson’s culinary scene is also a trademark of the region, with the local artisan culture priding itself in creating uncluttered cuisine from fresh local produce – of which the Golden Bay scallops come highly recommended as a must-taste meal for sea food lovers.Although there are no official geographical classifications, Nelson wine tours tend to visit two sub-regions within touching distance from the town’s picturesque waterfront on the edge of the Tasman Bay.
To the west of Nelson, the lush Moutere Hills is where the region’s first vines were planted and still remain a source of some of New Zealand’s finest vintages. The slightly warmer and wetter climate combined with gravel-threaded clay soils encourages complex and intensely flavoured wines from Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay in particular.By contrast, the Waimea Plains – which translated to Maori mean the ‘river garden’ – are home to some of Nelson’s newest vineyards. The wine styles from here are noticeably lighter, fresher and more aromatic in style than those from Moutere, courtesy of stony alluvial soils and a moderating maritime influence.
While Nelson wines account for only 2% of the New Zealand’s entire wine production and are rarely exported, neighbouring Marlbourough produces more wine than all of the country’s other regions combined and can be reached as part of Nelson wine tours. It’s here that the first Sauvignon Blanc vines were planted that would eventually come to change the course of New Zealand’s wine history after wowing international critics in the 1990s with a classic style that is still regarded by some to be the best in the world.
When not exploring Nelson wine tours from the town, visitors can discover incredible sights of natural beauty from renowned holiday destinations including the awe-inspiring Marlborough Sounds – an extensive network of sea-drowned valleys covering 4,000km 2 of sounds, islands and peninsulas that make up one fifth of the country’s entire coastline. The wooded hills and small quiet bays of the Sounds provide views straight from a picture postcard, while the sun kissed weather accommodates a range of sea faring activities such as boat cruises, fishing trips, dolphin watching and sea kayaking.
Elsewhere, a host of national parks, including the Abel Tasman National Park, Kahurangi and Nelson Lakes, can be trekked by foot or by bicycle for an outdoor experience that will be difficult to forget.If you are interested in Nelson wine tours, our local expert can arrange exclusive bespoke experiences across the region, including elaborate tastings, luxury accommodation, fine dining experiences and some unique outdoor activities.
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