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Marlborough Wine Region

  • Blenheim, South Island, New Zealand

Last updated: 23 April, 2024

The Marlborough wine region (which includes Wairau River) is New Zealand’s largest and most internationally celebrated wine-growing district, famous for its Sauvignon Blanc.

Despite its modest size, the region now offers a wide range of wine styles (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are gaining in popularity), over 80 small wineries and a ravishing rural landscape.

Many of the vineyards offer excellent cellar doors and conduct wine tastings; some have relaxed vineyard restaurants, but everything is wonderfully small-scale and intimate.

As well as wine, the region is also known for superb green-lipped mussels and venison.

While you're there

The Marlborough Tour company offers you the chance to be a winemaker for the day. Their half-day tour takes you to leading winery Framingham for a vineyard tour, a blending tutorial, and then the opportunity to blend your own Sauvignon Blanc. All followed by some wine tastings of course.

Recommendations

3

Allan Scott Wines

  • Blenheim, South Island, New Zealand

Allan Scott Wines

Experience

This family-owned winery produces consistently brilliant (and aromatic) Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Gewürztraminer, plus small quantities of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The winery operates an award-winning restaurant and its own microbrewery, producing Moa Beer.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 4-5 hours

Framingham Wines

  • Blenheim, South Island, New Zealand

Framingham Wines

Experience

A small, independent winery that makes small-batch wines from its own and selected vineyards in the district. The winery has built a huge reputation for its Rieslings, but also makes other styles, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Gerwurztraminer.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 4-5 hours

Wairau River Wines

  • Blenheim, South Island, New Zealand

Wairau River Wines

Experience

Wairau River Wines is one of the region’s best-known tourist destinations – but fully deserves all the attention it receives. There’s an excellent restaurant, and the dominant wines here are Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 4-5 hours

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

Blenheim, the gateway to the wine region, is a short drive from the ferry port at Picton (there are regular sailings from Wellington), or a 3.5-hour drive from Christchurch.

Self-drive is the traditional way to visit the Marlborough vineyards. Pick up a guide at the nearest tourist office. You don’t need to book cellar door visits, but lunch reservations are advisable.

Small group tours and guided bike tours are also available; handy if you plan on having a boozy lunch. Explore Marlborough offer an excellent range of full- or half-day, guided or self-guided wine tours. The terrain is fairly flat, and there are plentiful wineries within short distances, so they’re suitable for all ages and fitness levels. Private and customised tours also available on request.

The Marlborough Tour Company also offer good wine tours.

When to do it

Vineyards are open all year round, but it’s best to avoid harvest (March-April) if you’re looking forward to meeting the winemakers themselves. Opening times vary by vineyard.

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

  • Blenheim

With a winemaker as your guide; your tour starts with an informative vineyard stroll, followed by a behind-the-scenes look at a modern working winery where you may be able to taste grape juice fresh from the press, sample a young Pinot Noir from the barrel, or try a freshly filtered Sauvignon Blanc. You can ask all those curly questions, and capture the best behind-the-scenes winery photos. Next, we’ll get up close and personal with the Marlborough wine region and you’ll taste any delight that isn’t tied down. In our full day tour you visit 4-6 wineries which may include a local brewery (depending on the preferences of the group), with over 40 cellar doors to choose from, if you’ve got a favourite we’ll do our best to get you there. This tour does not include a visit to Cloudy Bay, Fromm and Hans Herzog. Lunch at a vineyard restaurant is always a highlight and is at your own cost. There is opportunity to visit the Makana Chocolate Shop. Visit 4-6 wineries.

Price NZ$195

Min age 18

Rating 4.94 / 5 [186 ratings]

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  • Blenheim

Discover the beauty of Marlborough your way. Rent a bike from us and enjoy your own self-guided wine tour. We’ll set you up with quality equipment and send you on your way with all the  recommendations, tips and hints you need to craft your own unforgettable Marlborough wine adventure. Your full day bike hire includes a bike, helmet, hi-viz vest wine map and pick up from your local accommodation. Pick up is at 9.30am and we have you back to your accommodation about 5pm.

Price NZ$60

Min age 0

Rating 4.87 / 5 [140 ratings]

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  • Blenheim

Our experienced Tour Host will collect you from your advised accommodation approximately 15 minutes before tour start time. Your chosen tour will be for approximatley 5 hours returning you to your accommodation. Our first stop will be at an award winning Vineyard Cellar Door where a wine tasting experience and lunch will set the day. After lunch, a fun afternoon will commence with approximately another 3 Cellar Door experiences where you will enjoy award winning top fligh vineyard wines. Time permitting - A good wine starts in the vineyard, we'll explain how vines are planted, pruned, managed and harvested.   All Cellar Door tasting experience fees are included in your tour tariff. Lunch is at the guests cost on the day, not included in your tour tariff. For Bespoke and Premium Private Tours please visit our website . If you have any special requests please enter these during the booking process.

Price NZ$160

Min age 18

Rating 4.76 / 5 [103 ratings]

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  • Blenheim

Taste some of New Zealand's most vibrant and flavorful wines at the multi-award winning Marlborough cellar doors on this full-day small-group tour. During this scenic journey around the valley, you will encounter a range of fruity Sauvignon Blancs, lusty Aromatics and Pinot Noir to die for. Enjoy lunch (at your own cost) at a vineyard restaurant and finish your tour with a taste of hand-made gourmet chocolates. What an exceptional day! MINIMUM BOOKING FOR 2 GUESTS

Price NZ$220

Min age 18

Rating 4.94 / 5 [94 ratings]

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  • Blenheim

Travel in a luxury minibus to the famous cellar doors of Marlborough on this approx. 5-hour tour. Compare the aromas of Marlborough's finest wines and taste the passion that goes into every bottle; then visit the barrel rooms and chat about viticulture and wine making. You will visit up to five wineries ranging from the internationally famous to boutique, family-run estates. Finish the day with a nibble of hand made gourmet chocolates at our chocolate factory. Minimum booking 2 passengers

Price NZ$200

Min age 18

Rating 4.97 / 5 [85 ratings]

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