New Zealand is the fourteenth largest wine-producing country in the world as of 2014 (source). You hear a lot more about Australian wines in the United States, but New Zealand has a strong wine-making industry, with large-production and boutique wineries throughout. The Marlborough region on the south island is one of the largest wine-producing areas in the country, and a tasting at a cellar door is a great way to spend a day (or several days). The first thing I noticed during tastings is the lack of red wines on the south island. The climate in the Marlborough region lends itself much better to whites, so at best you may find one or two reds (usually Pinot noir) at a given winery. The Hawkes Bay region on the north island is supposed to have a larger volume of reds, but I can’t speak to that directly.
I’m not much of a white wine person, but I was mostly impressed with the quality and variety of what I tried. While you’re tasting, you also get to take in some of those fabulous and dramatic New Zealand views. One unique aspect of New Zealand is how much farm land they have directly next to the coast. In North America, you typically won’t see a winery that abuts a rocky shore, but in New Zealand there are wineries where you can walk among the vines and be standing less than 50 yards from the ocean. After you’re done with your tastings, you can recover in one of the small to medium-sized towns in the region, such as Picton, Blenheim or Nelson. Marlborough Sound is also exceedingly beautiful and worthy of a tour by land, air or sea.
Not to worry – back in Virginia there are plenty of great red wines for you to find! Need to plan a trip back there soon!
As good as the whites were, I’m ready to have some reds.