WINE TOURS – VISIT SOME OF THE PREMIER WINE REGIONS OF NEW ZEALAND.
New Zealand boasts some of the best wines being produced anywhere in the New World, and the South Island is home to many of the premier wine regions in the country. The scintillating sauvignon blancs of Marlborough, and the rich and elegant pinot noirs of Central Otago stand as world class examples of their type, and Canterbury has now seen the emergence of high quality red and white wines from the Waipara wine region, just 45 minutes north of Christchurch city. Kiwi Drivers Tours and Travels Ltd. are pleased to offer tours to some of the many vineyards and cellars which produce these wines, where you can taste and purchase from the best that New Zealand has to offer.
THE WAIPARA WINE REGION
The North Canterbury wine region of Waipara has a burgeoning number of vineyards set in an open, picturesque valley within easy reach of Christchurch city. Although sparsely populated, a growing number of boutique wineries and restaurants have sprung up in this relatively new and upcoming region, which is quickly establishing an international reputation for fine wine. Varied soil types including alluvial gravels and limestone, combined with local climatic conditions featuring hot summers and long cool autumns, enable vintners to produce high quality regional specialities which include riesling, pinot gris, gewürztraminer and pinot noir. Small but perfectly formed, the Waipara wine region affords visitors an opportunity to enjoy a short wine tour and a lovely day out.
MARLBOROUGH WINE REGION
Marlborough is regarded by many to be New Zealand’s premier wine region, and produces more than three quarters of the country’s wine. It has a formidable world-wide reputation for producing white wines of the very highest class. Long hot summers and cool dry autumns combine with alluvial gravels to create some of the best wine growing terroir anywhere in the world. The main destination centre is the small town of Blenheim, which is located in the middle of the picturesque Wairau Valley. Wines of exceptional purity, intensity, and aroma are produced here, in a region that is both small and yet incredibly diverse. Marlborough is perhaps most famous for its sauvignon blanc – world-leading and world-beating wine, vibrant and fruit-driven, yet well balanced. Chardonnay too, is predominant here – intense, rich wines made in a variety of styles. Aromatic riesling, pinot gris and other white varietals are also made, adding to the region’s reputation as a white wine producer par excellence. In more recent years, pinot noir has emerged as another leading Marlborough wine. Lighter bodied and elegant in style, these pinots have quickly established a great reputation, both locally and abroad. For lovers of wine of all types, and with well over three dozen wineries to choose from, a trip to Marlborough is an ‘absolute must’ on any visitor’s itinerary.
THE CENTRAL OTAGO WINE REGION
New Zealand is blessed with many distinct wine regions of great character and diversity. One of the most spectacular is that of Central Otago, or just ‘Central’, as the locals call it. It is regarded as one of the country’s premier regions, perhaps the most scenic, and certainly the most southern. Ranges of snow-capped mountains; endless, rolling, tussock-covered hillsides incised by gullies and ravines cut by energetic and sparkling rivers; inter-montane basins filled with glistening blue lakes, all make for an ambient landscape of absolutely spectacular scale and beauty. This landscape is the perfect foil for the sophisticated food and wine culture that prevails here, and also affords the most amazing environment for a host of outdoor sports and action adventure activities, which makes ‘Central’ and its principle destination centre of Queenstown the ‘adventure sports capital’ of New Zealand.
Truly ‘continental’ in character, the climate of hot sunny summers and cold crisp winters combine with flinty, glacial and alluvial soil to create perfect conditions for growing grapes. Pinot noir is most dominant here, accounting for more than 80% of vineyard plantings, and producing rich, deep, earthy wines which are medium to full-bodied and complex. These are wines of elegance and finesse, distinct in character and world-class in quality. Chardonnay, riesling, and pinot gris are also grown here, as well as sauvignon blanc, although in much smaller quantities. Grapes grown in these conditions produce fragrant, aromatic wines – intense, citrusy, also with stone-fruit flavours, and a strong minerality. These are vibrant wines full of great character, and are a delight to wine drinkers everywhere.