It is the largest and most famous wine-growing region of New Zealand – Marlborough produces about 75 percent of the New Zealand wine and is the home of the Sauvignon Blanc. Again and again we see the fine wines in our supermarkets and wine shops and we travelled to New Zealand to see, where the white wine grows.
Blenheim – Cosy Center of Marlboroughs
Marlborough is a region in the north of the South Island of New Zealand and is one of the most famous wine regions of the country. Its center is the small town of Blenheim with nearly 30,000 residents. Downtown numerous cafes offer delicious coffee, the Riverside Park is a beautiful recreational area with great walking paths.
Fine wines from Marlborough
A few kilometers west of the city you will find numerous vineyards. First we stop at Framinghams and try some fine organic wines. The wine tasting is free, they offer different wines from the 17 hectare vineyard. We start with the typical local Sauvignon Blanc, then go over to Riesling and Pinot Noir.
Maureen Hamilton is Cellar Door Manager at Framingham and is working for over 10 years at the winery. “We also export to Germany,” she explains proudly and serves a glass of Montepulciano, which is cultivated for 14 years. This grape is very unusual for the region. “The oldest Riesling vines are even 36 years old,” says the expert. For New Zealand that is an eternity!
All wines except the Sauvignon Blanc are “handpicked” – that means they are harvested by hand. That’s a lot of work, even with the size of the Framingham winery.
Cloudy Bay – Luxury wines from New Zealand
A more luxury winery is Cloudy Bay. The estate is well known throughout the world, the prices are raised. We try five wines. The tasting fee of 10 NZ dollars is of course counted on wine purchases.
The offer ranges from Pelorus Blanc de Blanc over Chardonnay to a Late Harvest Riesling – a sweet dessert wine. The garden comes with comfortable lounge chairs and hanging basket chairs to stay – of course with a view over the vast vineyards.
Exploring Marlborough’s vineyards by bike
In the afternoon we cycle around the wine growing region Marlborough. Our first stop is at the Wine Village on Rapaura Road near Renwick – here a winery is located by the next! Light winds are breazing, the sky is a little cloudy and we struggle to the Winery Nautilus. Winemaker Brett Birmingham takes us right into his kingdom and taps fresh wine from the huge barrels. He spent several years at Cloudy Bay and came after a trip to overseas to Nautilus. This is now ten years ago.
Five employees manage the vineyard throughout the year, at harvest time about 50 people have a job at Nautilus. “My personal favorite wine is Pinot Noir,” reveals the 40-year-old and taps a little more of the nearly ready wine.
It’s always amazing that such an award-winning wine comes from this great vessel and is served even on board the Air New Zealand aircrafts.
Three German brothers producing wine in Marlborough
Next door the winery Giesen offers a tasting. Sarah Macdonald is already waiting for us and serves Sauvignon Blancs and Gewürztraminer.
For the wine tasters, the menu offers are several wine tastings with different focuses. Since we already know the Sauvignon Blanc from Germany, we ask for precipitated wines. The three German brothers are living near Christchurch, but they regularly come over to Marlborough and have “their” wines in view.
We taste “The Brothers Sauvignon Blanc” – a fine version with notes of lime, grapefruit and spices. Our recommendation is the “The August 1888 Sauvignon Blanc”, which was named after the grandfather of the three brothers. Very tasty!
The restaurant next door offers light meals and mixed platters with seafood. We opt for a colorful wooden board full of cheese and fish – accompanied by a Gewürztraminer – a wine that is very unusual for the Region.
Marlborough Wine Trail
The Wine Trail extends mainly along Rapaura Road between Blenheim and Renwick, but the wineries in the side streets with their “Open Cellar Door” are also worth a visit. Our favorite is the winery Rockferry, which also produces organic wines and offers inexpensive lunch like a Fish of the Day and numerous menus.
Note: The stay was supported by the Tourism New Zealand. The report only represent our own opinion.