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Just west of the small town of Blenheim in the north of New Zealand's South Island lies the Marlborough Wine Region, home to the annual Marlborough Wine Festival and around 60-odd wineries. This area is New Zealand's biggest for wine production and is also one of the largest in the world. With this in mind, I paid the area a visit during a recent holiday in the country.
The area is perfect for grape growing owing to long sunny days, flat terrain and cool nocturnal sea air. The area is famed for its Sauvignon Blancs and also produces some excellent Pinot Gris, Pinto Noir, Riesling and Gewurztraminer.
Unfortunately, not every winery here is open to the public and not all the ones that are, are worth visiting. However, there are plenty trying to tempt you through their doors either for a spot of sampling or to enjoy a meal at one of the bespoke eateries.
Many of the wineries are very close to each other and as such, it makes for an easy day or two of travelling round winery hopping, just make sure you have either nominated a driver beforehand or have sorted out some accomodation!
One of my personal favourites was the Wairau River winery on the heavily winery populated Rapaura Road. Its about 4km outside Blenheim and has an excellent tasting area, restaurant and dining space outside in the sun, right next to the grapevines. The staff were only too happy to recommend various wines to sample and weren't pushy in looking for a sale.
The well known Villa Maria Estate is also worth a visit and this is situated on New Renwick Road just south of the tiny Blenheim airport. Again, a good selection of wines were on offer here for sampling and the estate has a very modern, contemporary feel to it. The staff were extremely knowledgable about the wine selection on offer.
Other well known brands hailing from the area include Montana, Cloudy Bay, Wither Hills and Lawson's. All have wineries open to the public and are in close proximity to each other.
The Marlborough Wine Region is a truly beautiful area with row after row of vines lining the flat fields. It is well worth a visit, just be careful how much you drink!