From Sauvignon Blanc to Syrah, New Zealand has long been synonymous with world-class wines. Thanks to its unique geology and mild climate, Kiwi wine is recognised for its distinct, fruit-driven flavour and fresh acidity.
New Zealand now has over 2000 wineries, many of which just happen to be situated in some of the country’s most Instagram-worthy spots – whether it’s close to a beautiful coastline in the sub-tropical east coast or towering mountains in the wintry south.
The diversity of landscape and climate between the country’s wine-producing regions results in an array of wine varietals, while also making for some exciting destinations for visitors. Whether you consider yourself a casual wine taster or a connoisseur, grab a glass and take note of some of New Zealand’s most tantalising wine regions to explore below.
Perhaps New Zealand’s most well-known wine region, Marlborough produces around three-quarters of the country’s wine, over 80 percent of which is its famous Sauvignon Blanc. Located at the top of the South Island, the area is blessed with long, sunny days and low rainfall, resulting in thriving vineyards and robust, crisp flavours.
Many of the region’s cellar doors are within a short drive of each other, including iconic names such as Cloudy Bay, as well as smaller, boutique wineries like St. Clair. When it’s time to refuel, head to Brancott Estate or Wither Hillls for a mouthwatering platter, and to end your day, why not take a cruise on the beautiful Marlborough Sounds, right on your doorstep?
The world’s most southern (and potentially most scenic) wine region, Central Otago is famed for its aromatic Pinot Noir with its extreme climate also playing a key factor in producing its award-winning drops. An area of snow-capped mountains, turquoise lakes and dramatic gorges, its vineyards sit amongst some of the country’s most spectacular scenery.
Wineries are spread across a range of sub-regions, including the Cromwell Basin, Gibbston Valley, Alexandra and Wanaka. Our picks include Amisfield Winery & Bistro for its fabulous food, Mt Difficulty Wines for breathtaking views, and Rippon in Wanaka – recently voted the 13th best winery in the world.
On the east coast of the North Island sits Hawkes Bay, New Zealand’s second-biggest wine producer. Famous for its full-bodied, Bordeaux blend reds, it’s also home to Mission Estate – the country’s oldest winery. The best way to visit a few of its 70 wineries is on a leisurely bike tour, taking you past rolling hills, traditional farmers markets and nearby Napier’s cool art deco architecture.
At the bottom of the North Island is the picturesque Wairarapa region, serving up stand-out Pinots and Syrahs. Worth a visit is the charming village of Martinborough, only an hour’s drive from Wellington, the nation’s capital, with its own special varietals. It’s home to 20 vineyards, many of which are family-owned and operated, all within cycling distance of each other. Poppies Martinborough is our pick for the ultimate wine and dine experience. Indulge in a platter of local delicacies alongside a crisp glass of its renowned rosé.
Tucked away on the far east coast is sunny Gisborne, the first wine region in the world to see the sun. Due to its coastal climate, Chardonnay is the dominant varietal, though the area has received acclaim for its Pinot Gris as well. Our picks include Millton Vineyards and Winery, an eco-friendly winery that’s received acclaim for its Riesling; Matawhero Wine, well-established for its Chardonnay; and Bushmere Estate, highly regarded for its restaurant’s degustation sessions.
Beautiful wineries aren’t just limited to the regions listed here. From the far North to Waiheke Island to Nelson – no matter where you are in New Zealand, an award-winning vineyard is usually within reach. Visit some for yourself on Cosmos’ and Globus’ New Zealand tours, out now for 2021.