It was the stunning region of Marlborough that first put New Zealand on the map for wine. The shining star here is Sauvignon Blanc, but Marlborough is now globally recognised for many other varietals, too. And producing these wines are some of the world's most passionate, innovative wine makers, on some of the world's most picturesque vineyards.
Let us introduce you to a few of our personal favourite vineyards and cellar doors...
Jackson Estate is Marlborough's newest cellar door. (The winery itself is not new, Jackson Estate has been producing premium small batch wines for over 30 years). Designed by Brian Massey, Art Director of The Hobbit trilogy of movies, the new cellar door building is styled as a rustic 1850's pioneer hut that opens into a spacious, modern facility.
The design is a nod to Jackson Estate's pioneering ethos, as they combine innovative wine-making techniques with an old-world, hands-on approach. Jackson Estate wines are only made in small batches, from all hand-picked fruit.
Jackson Estate are well-known for their Pinot Noir range, so be sure to take a bottle of their Emperor Reserve Series home with you.
The Cellar Door is open daily from 10am - 4,30pm (closed Sundays only in Autumn/Winter).
Wairau River Wines
OK - we may be a little biased as it is owned by friends of ours - but Wairau River has to be one of New Zealand's most loved wineries. Since the late 1970's, when husband and wife Phil and Chris Rose recognised the potential of their land, Wairau River has been produce sensational wines exclusively from their own family estate vineyards. Even today, the Rose family manages and retains total control from vine to bottle. We reckon you can taste that love, care and passion in every drop of Wairau River wine.
Daughter Caroline, an accomplished chef in her own right, heads up the Wairau River restaurant. Visit the Cellar Door for a complimentary wine tasting to whet your appetite, then dine al fresco on fresh regional produce, matched expertly with the Wairau River portfolio of wines.
Cellar Door open daily from 10am - 4.30pm; Lunch service also 7 days from 12noon - 3pm. (Restaurant reservations are recommended, we'd hate for you to miss out.)
Home to the first ever Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Brancott Estate wines have won some of the wine world's most prestigious awards - including the Marquis de Goulaine trophy, and the International Wine of the Year and International Wine Maker of the Year at the London International Wine Challenge.
Brancott Estate wines are both classic and contemporary at once. They represent the very epitome of the Marlborough style, yet the brand continues to innovative, crafting new expressions of Sauvignon Blanc.
The Brancott Estate Restaurant is one of the prettiest in Marlborough, its uber-modern and sculptural architecture juxtaposed with the lush green vineyards it looks out across. Take home some cellar-door-exclusives, enjoy seasonal dishes as bright and fresh as the wines they're paired with, and soak in the stunning views.
Cellar Door open daily from 10am–4.30pm, Restaurant open daily from 11:30am–3pm
Another of the birthplaces of Marlborough's famed Sauvignon Blanc, Cloudy Bay is a must-visit. Cloudy Bay has played an historic role in the region's global reputation, and their Sauvignon Blanc was one of the very first New Zealand wines to gain international attention, thanks to its fruit-forward and very pronounced style.
Thanks to the early vision of founder David Hohnen, Cloudy Bay owns some of the most exceptional land in the Marlborough region. The rich diversity of the Cloudy Bay terroirs are reflected in the nuances and complexity of their wines.
Visit the cellar door for a wine tasting, or ask us to arrange a VIP experience for you - from a private tasting hosted in The Shack - Cloudy Bay's luxurious on-site guesthouse - to an exclusive on-foot or helicopter tour of Cloudy Bay's finest vineyards. In summer months, Jacks Raw Bar is a seasonal dining sensation - order a dozen fresh-shucked local Oysters, matched with a glass of the world's best Sauvignon Blanc.
Cellar Door open daily from 10am to 4pm.
Photography by Mike Heydon, via NewZealand.com
We'll introduce you to a few other fabulous Marlborough wineries in a future Travel Journal story. But for now, how about contacting our luxury travel team - let's start planning your New Zealand holiday!