A brief guide to who’s got what and where
Auntsfield has a great one at the end of Paynters Road offering top quality Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, while paying homage to David Herd who established Marlborough’s first vineyard. Allan Scott’s on Jackson’s Road has a popular restaurant as well as an extensive range of wines including their Central Otago label ‘Scott Base’ and six Methode Traditionnelle bubbles. Bladen, Conders Bend Road in Renwick is small but perfectly formed and offers a warm welcome while you taste the delicious aromatics. The contemporary and elevated Brancott Heritage Centre offers awe-inspiring views, great food and a wide range of Brancott Estate wine while the kiwi/French Clos Henri has a romantic spot in the form of a beautifully restored, wooden country church and you can taste the French influence in their Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Cloudy Bay’s is contemporary and bustling as you’d expect for one of the region’s most famous names and Domaine George Michel’s has significant French flair as well as interesting gifts and their restaurant, La Veranda a delightful lunch spot. Drylands Estate offers wines, food and functions while family-owned Fairhall Downs can be found in the Brancott Valley (check out the Torea label here too). Forrest offers many wines for tasting at their Blicks Road, Renwick property (be sure to try all the Rieslings) and just round the corner, Framingham’s pretty courtyard garden leads to their delicious aromatic styles as well as a Montepulciano. Fromm, just five minutes away offers serious and complex Syrah, Pinot Noir and stunning Riesling whereas Gibson Bridge is petite and Pinot Gris focused. Giesen offers a wide range of wines and the best vineyard platters and nearby luxury location Herzog offers beautiful surroundings and glorious food to match their tiny, hand-crafted production of single vineyard wines. Highfield Estate with its Tuscan tower (you’re welcome to climb) is on Brookby Ridge offering five wines including flagship Elstree Cuvee Brut Vintage bubbles and a restaurant open in summer (amazing views!), while Huia offers its delightful range from December to March. Pioneering, well-known Hunter’s with their restaurant plus award-winning native gardens is down on the flat of Rapaura Road while Isabel on Hawkesbury Road is pink and prides itself on Pinot Noir. Johanneshof with their multi award-winning aromatics is the closest to Picton and Lake Chalice is on Vintage Lane and supports New Zealand’s native falcon. Lawson’s Dry Hills is on the south side of Blenheim with Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir not to be missed and Mahi is back in Renwick and oozes passion from proprietor and winemaker Brian. Mount Riley is out at Riverlands and claims the first sparkling Sauvignon Blanc while Nautilus offers great wines – make sure you try the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Marlborough Cuvee. Just down the road is No.1 Family Estate, creators of seven of the region’s best bubbles – a legacy from twelve generations of Champagne makers. Omaka Springs Estate has olive oil too and organic Rock Ferry on Hammerichs Road has wonderful food and a range of wines that include Central Otago. Saint Clair has a café on Selmes Road and is a must for Sauvignon Blanc lovers with their extensive range of Pioneer Blocks amongst many others. Heading back west, organic and biodynamic Seresin Estate has beautiful olive oil in addition to beautiful wine – check out the Clydesdales working the vineyard. Spy Valley on Waihopai Valley Road has many wines to taste including the top of the line Envoy range and be sure to check out the Morse code, then there’s Te Whare Ra specialising in small quantities of outstanding organic and biodynamic aromatics, Pinot Noir and a rare drop of Syrah. Villa Maria, New Zealand’s most awarded wine producer offers their fascinating R&D wines as well as many others at their New Renwick Road location (be sure to try the ‘noble’ dessert wines) while one of the best lunches around can be had at Wairau River either by the log fire in winter or under the shade sails in summer. You can also dine while you wine at Wither Hills either at tables or on bean bags on the lawn, then in the Awatere Valley you’ll find the contemporary, award-winning Yealands Estate with their focus on environmentally friendly, sustainable practices throughout every aspect of their wine production.