Quite apart from its captivating natural beauty – think juicy, green vineyards, soaring, snow-dusted mountain ranges and expansive, cobalt skies – Marlborough, New Zealand, is home to some of the world’s most well-regarded sauvignon blanc vineyards. Need a Break explore 10 unmissable cellar doors near Blenheim.
The show-stopping Wither Hills sits atop a grassy hill, its striking central tower drawing your eye to the wide, Marlborough skies. Along with the famous sauvignon blanc, Wither Hills also produces a pinot noir with fruit from the Marlborough Southern Valley sub-region. Enjoy a glass over a slow lunch at the restaurant, which overlooks the captivating Richmond Ranges.
Cloudy Bay was one of the original vineyards in Marlborough, established in 1985. The cellar door, inside a shady courtyard, offers ample room for relaxed tastings and the outdoor deck looking over the wide lawns and vines is a stunning spot to grab something from Jack’s Raw Bar.
Villa Maria is one of New Zealand’s most famous labels and is a firm favourite among both sauvignon blanc and pinot noir drinkers. The Marlborough cellar door, one of two operated by Villa Maria, is only minutes from Blenheim along New Renwick Road.
Allan Scott is an independent family business, with career wine-man Allan at the helm and wife Catherine and their three children all actively working in the business. Sample the limited and exclusive releases at the cellar door and try the signature Seafood Chowder at the Twelve Trees restaurant.
Another family-owned winery. Although a comparatively small operation, Nautilus produces a variety of wines, including pinot gris, gruner veltliner, chardonnay and a cuvee brut, for those who like bubbles. This friendly, knowledgeable team will give you a personalised cellar door experience, however be mindful that the cellar door is closed between from May to September.
Giesen can be found along the famous Rapaura Road. Giesen Wines is run by a trio of brothers whose viticulture lineage extends back to their great grandfather. The cellar door can’t be missed, with its white stone walls and vivid terracotta roof. Come inside and sample the extensive range, which also includes merlot, shiraz and a rosé, as well as an organic sauvignon blanc.
Wairau River Wines
Wairau River Wines is also along the Rapaura Road. Originally, husband and wife team Phil and Chris Rose grew grapes for other producers, but in 1991 decided to release under their own label. Their 10 vineyards are carefully managed by the family to maintain quality and integrity. With a restaurant on-site, as well as a cosy cellar door, Wairau River Wines is a serene and stunning place.
Isabel Wines is a boutique winery, with the entire winemaking process occurring on the estate, from growing the grapes, processing, and bottling. Everyone in the small team is involved in the process, producing a range that includes a dry Riesling and chardonnay.
Fromm Vines are entirely organic. All waste material from the winemaking process is composted using a cleverly managed heap that allows the beneficial nutrients and bacteria to drain off, which is then mixed with rainwater and used on the vines. An onsite farm feeds the staff and families, and dry farming techniques are practiced to establish stronger, more vigorous vines. Learn more at the cellar door or ask for a winery tour.
Another organic vineyard, named after the pack of wild dogs that roamed the area in the early days of settlement. Dog Point holds an annual picnic on the property, with catering by Arbour Restaurant matched to Dog Point wines. This beautiful long-lunch event, with tables set up beneath the olive trees, is a highly-sought after event, with tickets selling out within minutes.
For accommodation nearby, the Quality Hotel Marlborough has a range of spacious, comfortable rooms, all with free WiFi. Just a short walk from Blenheim’s restaurants and cafes and right by the river, is a great place to base yourself while exploring Blenheim and the Marlborough region.