Disclaimer: We are NOT wine people. We love wine, we do not know wine. This was a learning process. You probably won’t learn much about specific wines in this post. You’ll just have to go check it out for yourself ;)
Let’s be honest here - there was no way we were going to camp out in the Marlborough region of New Zealand’s Southern Island without spending a day on a wine tour.
We spent a total of two nights at an AirBnB that was smack in the middle of the wine region. In fact, the AirBnB was ON a vineyard. If you’re ever in that area and are looking for somewhere really unique, private, and beautiful to stay, this is the link to where we were.
We loved it, and the family has a pet dog and sheep! They also have an outdoor hot tub, which is honestly a pretty big deal.
So, after a bottle of the vineyard’s sparkling Sauvignon Blanc and a long heart-to-heart in the hot tub, we were ready and rested a for a long day of touring a few of the area’s many cellars.
We booked our tour last minute through Highlight Wine Tours and got seriously lucky. We were the only two people signed up for the all day tour, giving us a lot of flexibility with where and when we went everywhere. Our tour guide, Colleen, was amazing and so much fun to spend the day with. If you’re in the area and looking to do a tour, we definitely recommend them! They also give you an option of doing the tour in a vintage car, which we didn’t do but sounds amazing.
We went to a total of six different wineries throughout the day:
No. 1 Family Estate
Wairau River Wines
The day was beautiful with the kind of perfect Spring weather that we’ve been taking for granted as we keep getting so lucky. After getting picked up at our AirBnb around 10 a.m. (no, mom, we didn’t drive!) we headed straight to Hunter’s, where we tried a variety of white wines, including the wine that makes up 80% of the Marlborough region’s wine exports - Sauvignon Blanc. All in all, we liked Hunter’s a lot.
No. 1 was a personal favorite of mine because anyone who knows me that one of my biggest weaknesses is Champagne. This winery does only sparkling wines and champagnes, making it somewhere I insisted we stop at. We got to sample three of their bottles and also learned a lot about the process of making champagne and how it gets it natural carbonation. We loved it, it was a beautiful and unique stop for us on this tour.
Fun fact: the owner of this vineyard names different wines after members of his family. His wife’s name is Adele, and her wine is sold in a bottle covered in swarovski crystals. Future husband, if you’re reading this and happen to own a vineyard, take notes.
Our third stop was at Framingham, which is an absolutely beautiful winery. It has a stunning courtyard with white tiles that are engraved with lyrics from songs the winery’s employees love. You also have the opportunity the go down into their cellar.
MJ and I tried one of our favorite wines of the day at this place. It was a dry Riesling that had a mineral-like finish that I expected to hate, since I’m normally not a Riesling kinda gal, but actually really liked. More than anything, it was definitely very unique. I asked if they sold it anywhere in the U.S., but unfortunately it’s a cellar-door special. Sorry, Dad, I tried!
We stopped at Wairau River for another tasting and a much needed lunch. As I’m sure you could’ve guessed, by now we were both a little tipsy. Colleen insisted that we didn’t have to drink every tasting we were served, but we’re both backpackers and recent college grads - we don’t turn down free booze.
Lunch was amazing, if you’re considering doing a day tour in this region then this stop is a must. The family owned winery makes some seriously delicious food and has one of the best white wines I had that day (and I had many).
Our next stop was Fromm winery. We were both in agreement that, while we liked two of the three wines we tried, we didn’t love this particular stop the way we did the others. We did get some cute pics though, so it was all worth it.
Our final, staggering stop was at Brancott Estate, the largest winery in this particular area. Indeed, it was huge, but the view from the top of the hill the cellar is perched upon is unbelievable. With the beautiful day we had, we decided to skip the full tasting, order a glass each of their Sauvignon Gris (a Pinot Grigio/Sauvignon Blanc cross that was odd but wonderful), and just sit to enjoy the view.
We ended our day around 5 p.m., safely dropped back off at our AirBnB. This was a wonderful day for us. We loved the tour, the tastings, and the amazing views we saw driving through the Marlborough valley. If you find yourself in Marlborough, probably to do a wine tasting, definitely keep a look out for some of these places we stopped at!
For a more complete list of the region’s wineries, check this link out.