For wine drinkers the world over, New Zealand is synonymous with sauvignon blanc. While the country produces award-winning varietals like Central Otago pinot noir, it’s the sauvignon blanc from Marlborough vineyards that oenophiles can’t stop talking about. Despite its fame this premier wine region remains blissfully undeveloped.
While various wine regions in the South Island are gaining their share of prominence, Marlborough will forever be where it all began. More than just the wine, however, the vineyards are set among rolling hills that stretch their way out toward the Marlborough Sound. Within the span of 30 minutes visitors can be sipping wine beneath a terrace and moments later be walking along a shoreline that is hidden in a tucked-away cove.
Though the town of Blenheim has an industrial feel, it’s close enough to the surrounding vineyards that you can reach many wineries by bicycle. To taste at vineyards in a larger radius, there are numerous wine tours that comfortably transport you from one boutique winery to the next. These commonly offer hotel pickup or transport from the Picton cruise port.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Wine lovers or anyone curious to learn about wine will find plenty on offer here.
- Tours typically include tasting award-winning Marlborough wines at cellar doors.
- Expect a full-day exploration to last at least 6 hours, including transport.
- Bring comfortable clothes, a warm top, sunscreen, and sunglasses for cycling.
How to Get There
When visiting the Marlborough vineyards, most wineries are within a few miles of the regional hub of Blenheim. They are also located just a short distance from Picton, so cruise passengers with a ship in port can reach the vineyards with relative ease.
When to Get There
Summer months (December–March) are the warmest, ideal for exploring by bicycle, but it’s also the busiest tour season. See grapes ripening on the vine during the autumn harvest. Winter months are devoid of tourists, so independent travelers will feel like a local.
Within Easy Reach It’s only a few hours to Kaikoura on a beautiful drive up the coastline, where another two hours will bring you to the center of Christchurch. Alternatively, travel aboard the Coastal Pacific train to Christchurch, Kaikoura, or Picton from Blenheim Railway Station. The Tudor-style heritage building is home to The Wine Station, which serves gourmet lunch platters daily to accompany wine tasting among a selection of 80 premium Marlborough wines.
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