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New Zealand’s lush climate is perfect for wine growing and the tradition of viticulture goes back to colonial times. This small island country in the Pacific is home to what wine critics refer to as the best Sauvingon Blanc in the world. Touring the vineyards in the Land of the Long White Cloud is fun and easy, as they stretch the entire length of the country. You are never far from your next delicious glass.
New Zealand wineries open their doors almost daily and offer tasting rooms, restaurants, cafes and lovely hotels and cottages to relax in after a long day of tasting. At many of the wineries you can sample the wine for free or for a nominal fee. Many of the large New Zealand wineries are open all year round, while some of the smaller ones will close from Easter until Labour Weekend. However, even if the winery is closed you might be able to make an appointment with them so it never hurts to call and ask.
So what are some of the best wineries that you should visit during your travels around New Zealand? There are too many to list here, but here are a few excellent choices to get you started when planning your trip.
This is the oldest winemaker in New Zealand, established in 1851. The early vintages of this wine were produced for sacramental purposes by Catholic missionaries. However, the demand increased so the brother’s started to make more. It is now the biggest producer of wine in the region and Mission Estate wine has won a number of international wine awards.
Every February the winery hosts the Mission Concert, a musical event that has featured artists such as Tom Jones, Rod Stewart and Eric Clapton in the past. Visit for a tour and a tasting in their historic seminary building or take a stroll around the expansive grounds.
This is arguably the most iconic wine brand of New Zealand and one of the biggest influencers, creating the iconic Sauvingon Blanc in the Marlborough style. It has established itself as the leading producer of Sauvingon Blanc in the world and it was one of the first New Zealand wines to be exported. The winery is set within 350 acres of vineyards and that located on three sites in the wine growing region of Marlborough.
Cloudy Bay welcomes visitors to their restaurant The Cellar Door for a unique menu of tasting options. They offer light lunches of local seasonal cuisine within the outdoor wine lounge – or you can lounge on one of the hanging egg chairs while sipping a glass of your favourite vintage.
This is a magnificent scenic Marlborough winery that is perched on the Brookby Ridge, with gorgeous views over the Wairu Plains all the way to the North Island. They specialise in Sauvignon Blanc, but they also have an amazing sparkling Elstree Cuvee Brut.
If you are planning on dining on the outdoor patio of the restaurant here, make sure that you book ahead in the summer because it is very popular. Pair the excellent wines with the Mediterranean and New Zealand inspired dishes, such as rack of lamb marinated in juniper.
This tiny winery in Nelson has become internationally known because of its excellent chardonnay and pinot noir. The owners, Judy and Tim, are very friendly and they will be happy to chat with you about what they do.
Along with the excellent wines at Neudorf Vineyard, they also serve artisan cheeses, oat crackers and olives in their small deli. Stock up on your favourite nibbles as well as a little extra to bring home to your friends and family.
Canterbury, located in the east of the South Island, is the newest wine producing region in the country. It is known for its excellent pinot noirs and Rieslings. Pegasus Bay is a family run winery that has earned a reputation as one of the best for food and wine in the region. Take a tour and see the floor to ceiling stacks of oak casks filled with aging wine.
Pegasus Bay was named the Best Winery Restaurant in New Zealand by Cuisine magazine for the second consecutive year in 2009. On a sunny day you can enjoy a leisurely lunch outdoors in the garden or near the small man-made lake. Make sure that you book ahead, it’s a popular spot!
These are just a few of the excellent wineries in New Zealand where you can taste the very best of local viticulture and cuisine. What could be better than an afternoon spent sipping great wine, nibbling on delicious foods and chatting with friends while soaking up the New Zealand sunshine?