The wineries in the Marlborough area are renowned for their Sauvignon Blancs, We’ve been enjoying them greatly over the last few days .
After arriving in Nelson, the weather cleared and we had a beautiful sunny day on Saturday. We took the opportunity to drive through the local area and see some of the countryside.
Located near Nelson is the Hoglung Glass Company. They have a magnificent gallery which we stopped at for an hour. They have received many prizes and commissions including one from the Olympic Federation. We could`t help but buy one piece for our house. If you like looking at excellent glass blowing craftsmanship, have a look at their website at www.nelson.hoglund.co.nz.
We drove westwards around the coast as far as the entrance to the Able Tasman National Park, where the walking track of the same name, begins. It takes three to five days to walk the entire distance through a rugged and scenic coastal environment. The starting point is a very civilised place – the cafe at the park entrance had a delightful menu and an extensive wine list. Not bad for the jumping off point of one of New Zealand’s most famous walks.
For the rest of the afternoon, we visited a number of wineries. We knew something of the Sauvignon Blancs from this area, Most of the wineries around Nelson are small boutique operations. As well as the Sav Blancs, they produce some nice Reislings, Chardonnays and Pinot Nois. The variety that we know as Shiraz is called Syrah in NZ, but I found that the reds from here were much too light for my taste. The cool weather results in them being very light; similar in colour (more than taste) to one of our Tasmanian Pinots.
Today, we drove to Blenheim which took us about two hours with a few stops on the way for photos. The weather was cool and cloudy. We travelled through a little town called Hira, where our friends David & Sally Usher, whom we met on the Milford Track, will be moving to shortly for their retirement. It is a very scenic little place, but I’m afraid that the pace of life would just be a little too slow for me!
Our first challenge was to find somewhere to stay. Unlike other places, Blenheim is essentially booked out. We just couldn’t find any nice place with a room for two nights for love nor money. In the end, we had to compromise with one night here and tomorrow night in Picton, a little way up the road. It took us about two hours in the middle of the day to sort out our accommodation.
In the afternoon, we visited three more wineries in this area. in Blenheim, they are typically big holdings (up to 200 hectares) and many of their names are well known from their exports to Australia. We started with a visit to Matua Winery, which we found is actually part of the Fosters Group. We also discovered that one of our favourite wines (Secret Stone) is actually produced by this winery as a restaurant label. We then called in at Cloudy Bay winery which has some superb white wines and had another learning discovery when we found out that it is owned by the Louis Vitton Group (who also own Domaine Chandon) in Australia. Our final stop was at Villa Maria Winery.
By late afternoon, we were back at our hotel for a brief snooze before dinner.