The beautiful Loire Valley, with its romantic chateaus, the flowing river and the picturesque countryside.
I discovered my love for Sauvignon Blanc when I first tasted a wine called Cloudy Bay and instantly put a visit to that winery on my bucket list. Cloudy Bay and many other fine wines come from a region simply known as Marlborough which is tucked away in the north-east corner of New Zealand’s South Island. It is the home of Sauvignon Blanc. With a record for the most number of sunshine hours in the country, anytime is a good time to visit the region where there is always something going on. Blenheim is the largest town here with wineries dotting the entire Wairau Valley.
In and around Blenheim, there are more than forty cellar doors you can walk through and taste some great wine paired with fantastic food. Some of the wineries provide accommodation as well. Starting from Brancott Estate, which was home to the original Sauvignon Blanc in the region, to my favourite Cloudy Bay and some other fine boutique wineries like Rock Ferry, we were really spoilt for choice. Cloudy Bay was my first stop of course!
The drive passes through the picturesque vineyards and the cellar door is discreetly tucked away behind the big Cloudy Bay sign.
The tasting room has a beautiful setting both inside and outside with a sleek and sophisticated feel to it. We popped in for a quick wine-tasting; this you have to pay for but it was well worth it. We tasted some wonderful wines, walked around the room flipping through some books on the subject, gazed at the landscape where the soil of the region makes all the difference to the grapes it yields, had a very informative conversation about wine-tasting with the lady behind the counter – an hour flew by swiftly. A glass of Cloudy Bay on a sunny evening gazing at the stunning scenery of the Marlborough Sound is as close to heaven as you can get!
We also stopped by at a few more wineries before we arrived at Wither Hills. En route, we passed a group of people on bikes who were doing the wine-trail on bicycles. This is a beautiful vineyard with a contemporary design cellar and restaurant set at an elevation.
After visiting the barrel hall one level below, we chose a red wine for the tasting and settled down on cosy beanbags on the lawn to enjoy the beautiful setting with our Pinot Noir. They also offer a guided tour to learn about the different grapes with an introduction to the wine-making process and, of course, a tasting.
Our stop for the night was at the picturesque Picton at the edge of South Island. From where we would cross by ferry to North Island the following day and make our way to Hawke’s Bay. Early next morning, we boarded the ferry to North Island that took us past the most stunning coastline I have seen.
Our last stop was at Mission Estate Winery in Hawke’s Bay on the eastern coast of North Island.
Hawke’s bay is the oldest and the second largest wine region in New Zealand. With a climate similar to Bordeaux in France they produce full-bodied red wines.
Mission Estate Winery was started by French missionaries, and dates back to 1851. We sat watching the sun go down outside the historic old building that offered wonderful views. Dinner at its well-known and very elegant restaurant, washed down with some red wine, was the perfect way to end this special day.
What more can I say? New Zealand’s wine country is 100% heaven.
I have found time to travel to many countries and live in 2 countries (3 if Scotland ever does becomes one!) and 6 cities during my career in finance. I was a diplomat first and started in the Indian Foreign Service with my first posting being Paris – The City of Light. And began my lifelong love of travel and coffee there! An MBA followed and I’ve been in finance since.