June 20th, 2013
New Zealand Wine Tasting: The Best Vineyards
While traveling in New Zealand, you won’t want to miss the wineries. This country has some of the top wine spots in the world, and all are in scenic mountain settings.
If sitting outdoors in the mountains and enjoying a glass of wine is your idea of a good time, New Zealand may be the perfect place for your next vacation. The quality of the country’s wines was once a secret, but the number of wineries there has exploded in the past 20 years—and the world has taken notice.
The majority of New Zealand’s wine comes from the Marlborough region, which is known for its sauvignon blanc, but vineyards are found all over the country. If you’re heading to the land of the kiwi for a wine-tasting experience, pack your bags and head to these five spots.
The Hawke’s Bay region is an ideal spot for winemaking, since it has a warm, dry climate that is conducive to producing red wine. Mission Estate has been in the wine-producing business since 1851, making it the oldest winery in the country. In addition to touring the winery, visitors can grab a backpack and take advantage of many other outdoor activities in the Hawke’s Bay area, such as rafting, golfing, biking, taking sea cruises, and exploring miles of beaches.
Situated in the Wairau Valley in Marlborough, Cloudy Bay is one of the most well known vineyards in New Zealand and has been producing several varieties of wine since 1985. In the cellar, visitors can enjoy appetizers and sample up to five wines. Don’t be surprised if you find a crowd at Cloudy Bay, since tourists have made it one of the most popular wineries in the area.
The Canterbury region is sometimes overlooked, but Pegasus Bay is helping to change that with its acclaimed riesling and pinot noir varieties. Luckily for the wine-loving tourist, Pegasus Bay’s award-winning restaurant and vineyard are located less than an hour outside Christchurch, the largest city on South Island. If the wine and food alone aren’t enough of an attraction, consider coming during one of the winery’s opera or pop music concerts, which are hosted in its natural hillside amphitheater that holds up to 3,000 people.
Villa Maria Estate has vineyards located in the cities of Auckland and Gisborne, and in the Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough regions. The winery was founded in the early 1960s and earned recognition in the 1980s after it began exporting its product. Villa Maria engages in a number of sustainable practices, such as harvesting organic grapes, using recycled materials in packaging, and even purchasing hybrid staff vehicles. Villa Maria has been named “New Zealand Winery of the Year” by multiple worldwide publications.
Craggy Range’s Te Muna Road Vineyard has been open for only ten years, but it’s already famous for its excellent pinot noir and sauvignon blanc. The vineyard sits on an elevation, so it provides guests with exceptional mountain views. If you’ve got the cash, consider splurging for a “Paddock to Plate” tour that allows you to walk around the winery and pick your own vegetables for dinner from the garden outside Craggy Range’s Terroir restaurant.
Scott Shetler is a freelance journalist and frequent traveler who enjoys national parks, urban nightlife, and everything in between. He blogs about his adventures at http://quirkytravelguy.com.
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