The resort town of Queenstown on New Zealand’s South Island is perhaps best known as a haven for adrenaline fuelled sports activities such as bungy jumping and skiing, but it is also the gateway to the country’s Central Otago wine growing region.
Home to the world’s southernmost commercial vineyards, Central Otago is internationally renowned for the quality of its wines – as well as breathtaking landscapes punctuated by snow-capped mountains and valleys carved by glistening rivers and lakes.With around 200 vineyards within two hour’s reach of the city, Queenstown wine tours have become a popular way of exploring the region for those prepared to venture to the extreme south – where the cool climate and unique shaly soil provide excellent conditions for wine growing. Central Otago, which covers 1,932 hectares and accounts for only 2.4% of the country’s entire production, is primarily known for the quality of its Pinot Noir – with a variety of expressions produced from various sub regions – although some excellent aromatic whites such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc also flourish here.
At Wine Paths, our local expert can organise exclusive wine tours from Queenstown to the region’s surrounding vineyards, which include elaborate tastings, luxury accommodation, fine dining experiences and many outdoor activities. Although the area’s sub-regions are all accessible via wine tours in Queenstown, the town is typically associated with the nearby Gibbston Valley – the coolest and highest of Central Otago’s six main wine regions.
The so-called ‘Valley of the Vines’ features vineyards strewn across the north facing hillsides, which produce lighter-bodied wines without sacrificing the intensity of flavours. Pinot Noir still reigns supreme, while other varieties include Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.
Visitors taking part in Queenstown wine tours to the Gibbston Valley will also find some of the most jaw droppingly beautiful scenery on the face of the earth – a reason why this area was used as a backdrop for the fantastical Lord of the Rings films.
Visitors taking part in Queenstown wine tours to the Gibbston Valley will also find some of the most jaw droppingly beautiful scenery on the face of the earth – a reason why this area was used as a backdrop for the fantastical Lord of the Rings films. The Gibbston River Trail, which can be taken by foot or on bicycle, is a popular way to explore wineries en route, and also links to the more challenging Queenstown Trail; a 100km route that can be travelled on foot or by bike and passes by the many rivers and lakes of New Zealand’s Southern Lakes district. Among the other sub-regions that can be easily reached from the city as part of wine tours from Queenstown are:
Wanaka – the smallest and most northerly sub-region offers fine wines amid idyllic settings, especially for the romantically inclined.
Bannockburn – one of the warmest and driest of the sub-regions, with a small mining town that takes a glimpse into the past when prospectors flocked here in search of gold.
Bendigo – a region that is particularly noted for its red wines from Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon as opposed to the ubiquitous Pinot Noir.
Alexandra – where the region’s original vines were planted by a French traveller in 1862. The extreme climate here produces vivid, aromatic wines with a well-balanced structure.
Cromwell Basin – which includes Lowburn and Pisa, is where highest concentration of vines are planted to produce some award-winning Pinot Noir and Riesling styles.
If you are interested in the best wine tours Queenstown has to offer, visit out New Zealand destination page for more information and inspirational ideas before planning a bespoke trip – all of our private tours can be tailor made to meet your exact requirements, ensuring that every detail is taken care of so that you can relax and enjoy the matter at hand.
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