The wine growing region of Nelson may only contribute 2.4% towards New Zealand’s entire production, but Nelson wineries account for a surprising 10% of cellar doors (or tasting rooms) thereby playing a significant role in the country’s wine tourism.
Nelson is the lesser known neighbour of New Zealand’s largest and most prestigious wine region, Marlborough, on the country’s South Island – which is renowned for its glorious sun-drenched weather and stunning natural beauty. A recent analysis of international visitors to New Zealand over the last three years revealed that 24% visited a winery, encouraging the Kiwi wine industry to ensure regions make the most of their opportunities to welcome guests with memorable tasting experiences.
‘With our cellar doors, you can meet the winemaker, you can try wines, you can have something good to eat and have an authentic New Zealand experience,’ Chris Yorke, global director for New Zealand Winegrowers, told the Nelson Grape and Wine Magazine. Despite ever increasing interest in New Zealand wine tours, and a growth in exports from NZ$300 million to NZ$1.6 billion in the last 12 years alone, Nelson wineries are slightly concerned for their 2017 after what has been a challenging harvest.
Nelson wineries are typically modest boutique estates specialising in the production of premium, hand crafted wines, with styles such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and New Zealand’s signature Sauvignon Blanc encouraged by the plentiful sunshine, a sheltered, moderating coastal climate and free-draining, semi-fertile soils.
It has been a harvest for steel nerves and patience this year due to a longer than average flowering period and a mild summer with an unexpected number of cloudy days throughout the early months. Mid harvest was also afflicted by a series of vigorous storm systems bringing considerable rainfall to many of the country’s wine growing regions. Consequently, the annual harvest for most growers started 10-15 days behind schedule.
Nonetheless, small, quality-orientated Nelson wineries producing low yields have been rewarded for their efforts earlier in the year with cleaner fruit and expressive varietals, while many of the fermented wines in barrels are starting to reveal refined styles with vibrant acidity and moderate alcohol levels – suggesting a happy ending to 2017’s struggles with Mother Nature. Nelson wineries are typically modest boutique estates specialising in the production of premium, hand crafted wines, with styles such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and New Zealand’s signature Sauvignon Blanc encouraged by the plentiful sunshine, a sheltered, moderating coastal climate and free-draining, semi-fertile soils.
German settlers planted the first vines during the 1800s before pioneering producers such as Seifried and Neudorf establishing the region’s modern wine industry in the 1970s. The relatively small size of the region means most Nelson wineries can be visited within a few days by either foot, bicycle or car, although the area’s prominent artisan community – featuring an abundance of cafes, craft breweries, artists’ residences and galleries – is also worth exploring. Many of the wineries lure visitors with a combination of art and a promising culinary scene that prides itself on 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. Outdoor activities blessed by the beautiful weather are also a popular pastime, with hiking, kayaking, cycling, fishing, three national parks, and two of New Zealand’s so-called ‘Great Walks’ all attracting energetic visitors.
And, Nelson is also only a two-hour drive to Picton, the gateway to the magnificent Marlborough Sounds – a breathtaking 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 and some of New Zealand’s most picturesque scenery.
If you are interested in visiting Nelson wineries, contact Wine Paths’ local expert for more information and inspirational ideas before planning an exclusive bespoke tour.
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