24. Journey to New Zealand's blanc hotspot
Wine and dine your way through New Zealand with these magnificent locations: here is No. 24 of our 101 Reasons To Stop Dreaming About New Zealand And Go.
Sauvignon blanc has only been made in Marlborough for just over four decades, but New Zealand’s biggest-selling wine on the global stage has made this warm and sunny region at the top of the South Island/Te Waipounamu famous around the world. It’s also the spritzy backstory for exploring an area packed with food, wine and beer credentials well beyond its single-wine starring role.
Begin a journey of eating and drinking around Marlborough at The Wine Station in Blenheim’s restored heritage railway station. Around 80 local wines can be sampled, getting you quickly up to speed with the region’s wine-making diversity. Pop next door to the Blenheim i-Site Visitor Information Centre for a wine-touring map, and discuss your plans for getting around the vineyards. Bike2Wine offers self-guided two-wheeled tours and a convenient pick-up service at the end of the day.
There are a few essential and iconic stops to make when you’re in the region. Cloudy Bay combines tastings of its world-famous sauvignon blanc with fresh Marlborough oysters from Jack’s Raw Bar from December to April, and just along Jackson Road you’ll find Moa Brewing Co.’s cellar door. Moa’s barrel-aged and sour beers are always surprising and the on-site Cave Kitchen food truck does good pizza and pulled-pork burgers on weekends.
For Marlborough’s best riesling, head west along Rapaura Road to Framingham Wines where the punchy, aromatic varietal was first planted in 1981, and three decades of winemaking heritage is belied by the on-site Framingham Underground, originally a wine cellar but now a hip space for pop-up gigs and photography and exhibitions.
After visiting Moa, head to Nautilus Estate for its exceptional sparkling wines; the Nautilus Estate Cuvée Brut is a perennial favourite at New Zealand celebrations. To learn about the early days of Marlborough sauvignon blanc, visit Brancott Estate Wines’ architecturally spectacular tasting room in nearby Fairhall. The region’s original sauvignon blanc vines were planted on the estate.
Continuing a gourmet Marlborough sojourn, The Burleigh bakery serves up the region’s best pies – there’s often a (fast-moving) line out the door for the Jamaican lamb curry variety. Team seasonal shared plates with local craft beer from Marlborough’s tiny Boom Town Brewing Co. at Blenheim’s Scotch Bar & Wine Shop. And an essential final treat is lunch or dinner at Harvest. Much of the menu is cooked on a Mibrasa charcoal oven imported from Spain, with experienced executive chef Toby Stuart infusing seasonal and local ingredients with a delicate hint of smoke.