Marlborough, the largest wine growing region is New Zealand, is largely responsible for reserving the country’s place at the international wine table after introducing its classic Sauvignon Blanc to the world in the 1980s.
Many wine critics still rate the Sauvignon Blanc from this north-eastern corner of New Zealand’s South Island to be the best in the world, courtesy of a magical synergy between climate, soil and the dedication of the region’s wine makers. And, with the South Island renowned for its sun kissed climate and awe-inspiring beauty, Marlborough wine tours have become an increasingly popular way of exploring the countryside.
Spanning over 20,000 hectares, the region contributes almost 80% towards New Zealand’s entire wine production, and is home to over 141 wineries ranging from recognisable exports such as Cloudy Bay Vineyards, Brancott Estate and Oyster Bay to small boutique estates renowned for their artisan wines.
At Wine Paths, we can organise exclusive Marlborough, New Zealand wine tours that can include elaborate tastings, luxury stays, fine dining experiences and some unique outdoor activities. Wine tours in Marlborough generally take place across two main sub-regions – the more established Wairau Valley where most of the region’s respected vineyards are situated, and the smaller cool climate Awatere Valley region.
The Wairau Valley is referred to in native Maori as ‘the place with the hole in the cloud’, which reflects the outstanding protection provided by the unique topography of one of New Zealand’s most sunny and dry regions. It is also home to the region’s main centre Blenheim, which is surrounded by an extensive patchwork of vineyards that attract most Marlborough wine tours – where Sauvignon Blanc still reigns supreme and is defined by distinctive aromatic styles with vivid tropical fruit flavours.
Marlbourough also produces some impressive Chardonnay, Riesling and quality Pinot Noir, as well as sparkling wines made using the same ‘methode traditionelle’ technique as Champagne – all of which can be sampled during typical winery tours of the Marlborough region. The Awatere Valley, meanwhile, lies south of Wairau and stretches inland from the sea climbing towards the Kaikoura mountain ranges where the cooler climate creates lower yields of bright aromatic styles including the ubiquitous Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.
Among the most revered wineries on the Marlborough wine trail map is the Brancott Estate – one of the region’s premium vineyards, featuring majestic views and wine tastings accompanied by fresh regional food pairings at their on-site restaurant – and the Cloudy Bay Vineyards that New Zealand wine tours in Marlborough with a spacious cellar door as well as outdoor terrace tastings at ‘Jack’s Raw Bar’.
Marlborough wine tours from Wellington can be easily arranged via a simple ferry crossing from the country’s capital on the North Island. This route also passes through the picturesque coastal resort of Picton – the gateway to the stunning Marlborough Sounds. The Sounds, an extensive network of sea-drowned valleys covering 4,000km 2 of sounds, islands and peninsulas, are breathtakingly beautiful with stunning views and sea faring activities including boat cruises, fishing trips, dolphin watching and sea kayaking – while Marlborough wine tours from Picton can also be arranged. Should you decide to stay in Marlborough, the Bay of Many Coves features luxury lodges and an award-winning restaurant amid hundreds of acres of natural forest on the water’s edge of the Sounds
If you are interested in exploring Marlborough wine tours, contact our local travel expert for more information and inspirational ideas to create a bespoke itinerary.