Self-Guided Wine Tour of Marlborough
With its unique style of Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough has established New Zealand as a major player in the wine world. The largest wine area in the nation, it is home to about 20,000ha of grapes, or almost two-thirds of the country’s total. Elegant Pinot Noir, powerful Chardonnay, and vibrant aromatic grape varietals are just some of the wines that Marlborough Vineyards produce.
Marlborough, which is located on the east coast, is regarded as one of the world’s top wine-producing regions. Its sunny but generally cold climate makes it the perfect place to grow premium wine with distinctively tangy fruit flavors. Marlborough has a maritime climate since it is located at the summit of New Zealand’s South Island, bordered by Cook Strait to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the east. This has a cooling effect, which when combined with some of the greatest amounts of sunshine in the nation, gives the ideal climate for grape cultivation.
The complexity of fruit grown in Marlborough is enhanced by hot days and chilly nights. The diurnal range of roughly 11 degrees throughout the summer maintains high acid levels in the grapes, allowing lengthy ripening times, resulting in piercing fruit intensity and strong varietal expression. Cooling sea breezes are provided by the eastern coastline aspect and the mountains’ natural protection from strong winds and rain. Long Indian summers are sometimes accompanied by drought, but more frequently they allow a variety of styles to bloom.
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The majority of New Zealand’s wine output, vineyard acreage, and exports come from the Marlborough wine region, which is by far the largest in the country. The entire Marlborough District and the Kaikoura District of the Canterbury Region, are located in the northeast of the South Island. However, in actuality, the vineyards are concentrated around the townships of Blenheim and Seddon. Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is acknowledged as being of the highest caliber on a global scale; wine experts like Oz Clarke and George Taber have referred to it as the greatest in the world.
Marlborough, however, isn’t just home to fine Sauvignon Blanc, but also grows delightful Pinot Noir. It is a truly superb location and one to be put on the ‘must-visit’ list.
The spring months of October and November, followed by March and April, provide an excellent balance between moderate temperatures and sparse visitors. However, you can go any time of year if you’re willing to take a chance on getting wet
David Herd, a pioneer in viticulture in Marlborough, began growing vines in 1873 and producing his own wine from Brown Muscat. Herd’s meager output, however, eventually ceased to exist, and Marlborough’s viticulture didn’t return until 1973 when Montana built the vwinery known today as Brancott Estate (which proudly touts itself as having made the first Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc). In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a small number of winemakers started modest-scale commercial production, which is regarded as the beginning of Marlborough’s wine industry. A few hundred hectares of grapes had been planted by the end of the 1980s.
The second much larger wave began to arrive in the late 1990s. Marlborough had a boom that lasted far into the late 2000s. From 5,730 hectares in 2002 to 22,000 hectares in 2008, the vineyards expanded at an exceptional rate. Up to 3,000 hectares of vines were planted per year at its height. The economic crunch in 2008 put an end to that boom, and Marlborough moved from having a glut of excess supply to being outstripped by demand. Since the market has stabilized, Marlborough is currently experiencing its third wave of vineyard plantings, though at a much more moderate rate and primarily by current growers rather than new investors. Presently, 26,000 hectares of the Marlborough wine region are planted.
Only in 2018 was the Marlborough wine area recognized as a regional indicator. The Southern Valleys, Wairau Valley, and Awatere Valley sub-regions were then separated from it.
The best Pinot Noir is produced in the Southern Valleys, which have clay soil. The regions’ various climates create highly fragrant qualities in the wine.
The Wairau Valley is distinguished by deep, old riverbed soils, and because of the inland regions’ cooler and drier environment, the grapes age quite quickly. Wines from the Wairau Valley are robust and fruity-smelling.
Given that it runs from the sea to the Kaikoura mountain range, the Awatere Valley offers a remarkably broad spectrum of geographical features. Due to the lesser quantities of grapes grown in the Awatere Valley, Pinot Noir is particularly aromatic, but Sauvignon Blanc is the grape that makes this region unique.
Marlborough is home to several historical sites that you should consider visiting.
- Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre
The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre presents a stunning experience that grabs the imagination by fusing a unique collection of World War One and World War Two aircrafts with inventive exhibition techniques. Omaka is a top-notch location for appreciating vintage aircraft and learning about the people who built them.
- The Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve
One of the last remaining sections of river flat forest in Marlborough, the Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve offers visitors the chance to unwind and take in the forest and river views.
- Edwin Fox Museum
Edwin Fox is one of the oldest still-operating commerce sailing ships. The Edwin Fox is the only remaining vessel that carried prisoners of war to Australia. She is special because outside of the Falkland Islands, she is the “sole undamaged hull of a wooden deep-water sailing ship designed to British requirements” that still exists. Both troops and immigrants were transported by Edwin Fox to Australia and New Zealand during the Crimean War. The Edwin Fox Maritime Centre in Picton, New Zealand is where the ship is dry-docked.
The following are some of the best wineries in the Marlborough region.
- Saint Clair Family Estate Vineyard Kitchen
Visit the Saint Clair Family Estate Vineyard Kitchen to unwind, kick back, and take in the atmosphere. The recently refurbished building is located in a distinctive vineyard setting with views that go past the vines and onto the spectacular, ever-evolving Richmond Range. With some seating options tucked within the vines, the bright courtyard offers outdoor dining. Through large floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors, an extended veranda portion may ensure that visitors continue to feel like they are in a vineyard on chilly days.
- Wither Hills Cellar Door
Take in Marlborough’s natural beauty while enjoying a thorough tasting of the wines they are so enthusiastic about. The winery, which is open seven days a week, also gives tours of its vine library and barrel hall. The cellar door is the ideal setting for a relaxing getaway with friends and family because it blends character and modern style. The Wither Hills Restaurant also offers lunch.
- Cloudy Bay
The Sauvignon Blanc produced by this winery made New Zealand’s wine region famous worldwide.
Claire and Mike Allan founded and currently operate Huia Vineyards, which had its first harvest in 1997 after opening in 1990. Huia is dedicated to making handcrafted quality wines in the most natural manner possible. The company is certified organic and practices biodynamic farming.
- Welly’s Marlborough
Even though Welly’s Restaurant in Marlborough has a sizable menu, patrons keep returning for the perfect parm. In the roughly ten years since Welly’s debuted on Main Street in the heart of Marlborough, the business has been robust. This is a cozy, laid-back restaurant with a bustling bar on one side and a welcoming dining area on the other. It is also quite reasonably priced.
- Arbour Restaurant
Arbour is a contemporary, laid-back setting with cutting-edge cuisine, a sizable wine selection, and warm, welcoming service. A “Just Feed Me” experience of four or “MANY” (eight) courses is available. Every cuisine features regional producers and Marlborough tales.
- The Foredeck Restaurant
This is a wonderful dining experience with panoramic views of the bay in a particularly romantic setting. Our seasonal menus and perfectly wine-matched signature degustations will create amazing culinary memories as you spend an evening with candlelight, conversation, and absolutely stunning flavors.
Here are some of the best places to consider when looking for a comfortable place to stay in Marlborough.
- The Lodge At Te Rawa
The Lodge At Te Rawa is a boat-only accommodation with a BBQ and a private beach area in Te Rawa, Marlborough, 26 kilometers from Picton. Visitors can have a meal in the restaurant or a drink at the bar, and the resort features a sun terrace with views of the ocean. There may be a seating area in certain units where you can unwind. Certain rooms include a balcony or terrace. A private bathroom with a bathtub or shower is included in each room. You may go fishing, kayaking, or hiking, among other activities.
- Punga Cove Resort
In Endeavour Inlet, Punga Cove Resort has a restaurant, a bar, a garden, and an outdoor pool that is open seasonally. The 4-star resort’s accommodations all have sea views, and visitors have access to a sun deck. The hotel has family rooms, a hot tub, and complimentary WiFi. The resort’s guest rooms each have a seating space. All of the rooms come with a kettle, a private bathroom with a shower, and some additionally include a kitchenette.
The best way to save money is to plan ahead and decide on which wineries and restaurants you would like to visit before arriving. Another great way to save money is to cook rather than eat out. Many accommodations have cooking areas or BBQs available.
Marlborough is a must for Sauvignon Blanc lovers. The ideal experience for visitors is provided by the soil and enviable environment that makes such high-quality Sauvignon Blanc possible. It is the region’s different landscapes, from valleys of grapes to the protected waterways of the Marlborough Sounds that attract tourists.
The vibe: The Marlborough and Nelson Tasman regions, which are at the very top of New Zealand’s South Island, have an undeniable freshness to the land and the ocean. The ideal location for your next vacation combines an exceptional climate, protected coastlines, top-notch food and wine, and beautifully diverse scenery, from sandy beaches to craggy mountains and sparkling lakes.