New Zealand may be relative newcomers to the international wine stage, but the country has rapidly gained a reputation as one of the most sought after travel destinations for wine tourism.
Despite its far flung location on the underside of the world, the country lures intrepid visitors with its sun-kissed climate, stunning scenery, welcoming atmosphere and world renowned New Zealand wineries producing a diverse range of wine styles.New Zealand’s rise to prominence was fuelled by the country’s signature Sauvignon Blanc, which some wine critics claim is the world’s finest while others have compared it to ‘making love for the first time’. However, other award-winning styles including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Bordeaux style blends also flourish here.
Wineries in New Zealand may only account for 1% of the world’s entire production, but many of its wines from recognisable producers including Cloudy Bay Vineyards, Brancott Estate and Oyster Bay are exported across Australia, Europe and the United States.There are over 700 New Zealand wineries ranging from large commercials to small boutiques scattered across the North and South Islands, with most congregating on the eastern coasts between the ocean and a backdrop of snow-capped mountains and glistening rivers carving their way through deep ravines.
At Wine Paths, our local expert can organise exclusive tours of the best wineries in New Zealand, including elaborate tastings, luxury stays, fine dining experiences and some unique outdoor activities.
There are 10 major wine regions to explore, although the best New Zealand wineries can generally be found in three areas:
New Zealand wineries – Marlborough
Situated in the South Island and spanning 20,000 hectares, Marlborough is by far the country’s largest wine growing region and home to the best wineries in New Zealand. It was here that the first Sauvignon Blanc plantings put New Zealand on the premium wine map and Marlborough now accounts for almost 80% of the country’s production.
Among the New Zealand wineries, South Island that can visited are two of the country’s most influential producers:
The Brancott Estate – where the first Sauvignon Blanc vines were planted to change the course of New Zealand’s wine making history – is renowned for its award-winning vintages, spectacular views and state of the art cellar door and on-site restaurant. And the the Cloudy Bay Vineyards, arguably New Zealand’s most well-known export label wth a diverse collection of wine styles ranging from their flagship Sauvignon Blanc to critically acclaimed Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and sparkling varieties.
New Zealand wineries – Hawke’s Bay
Also in the South Island, Hawke’s Bay is the second largest wine growing region – boasting 72 NZ wineries across a landscape of rolling hills and art deco buildings that primarily produce red wines from Bordeaux style blends using more Merlot than Cabernet Sauvignon. The region also has a blossoming food and artisan produce scene, which includes an internationally acclaimed Food and Wine Festival twice a year. At the Church Road estate – you can enjoy both fine wine and food at one of the region’s oldest vineyards that is accompanied by its own restaurant.
New Zealand wineries – Waiheke Island
Waiheke Island or the ‘Island of Wine’ is perhaps the most appreciated wine region in the North Island – not least because it has been ranked the fifth best destination in the world to visit by the Lonely Planet in 2016, while also being voted the fourth best island in the world by Conde Nast. The Stonyridge Vineyard here was only established in the 1980s has become renowned for producing world class Bordeaux blends, while being referred to as ‘one of the top ten must-visit wineries in the world’ by The Guardian UK.
If you are interested in exploring wineries in New Zealand, visit our 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 specifications.