Marlborough is a region in the north of New Zealand’s South Island famous for its wine, especially Sauvignon Blanc. Since this is our favorite type of white wine, we were really excited to sample the wines at the source. We thought we’d stay a night, but ended up falling in love with this adorable area and stayed three nights. Here’s our experience of wine tasting in Marlborough, New Zealand, along with some tips if you want to go vineyard hopping yourself (which we highly recommend)!
Note: prices are in NZD unless noted.
I was under the impression that Marlborough was a tiny area of wineries, but I was wrong. It’s actually quite a large region, so you’ll have a hard time finding accommodations if you just search for Marlborough, NZ. If you’re looking to stay in the area and tour the vineyards, search for places in Renwick (a small, but very central town), Blenheim (a larger town, a bit farther from the largest concentration of vineyards, but still very convenient), or Picton (the town the ferry from Wellington takes you; about 30 minute drive from most wineries). We stayed at an adorable Airbnb in Renwick for $35/night (USD), and it was extremely convenient.
Tip: Don’t be tempted to buy wine bottles from the wineries themselves, at least not the larger ones. You can find the bottles for much cheaper in the grocery store!
You have a few options for visiting the vineyards. A guided tour will set you back about $80 for the day. Renting a bike is about $30 for the day, or you can just drive if you don’t plan on drinking a lot and do a self-tour. We opted for the last option, and it was very convenient. There are vineyards literally covering Renwick & Blenheim. We don’t see why you’d want to pay for the tour, unless you both want to get super drunk.
As I said, there are an overwhelming amount of wineries in the area, so while we didn’t get to explore them all, here are the ones we stopped at for tastings. I put an asterisk* next to our favorites.
Gibson Bridge Vineyard*
This tiny vineyard is owned by 2 lovely people. Wine tastings are free for 2 glasses, or $5 to try them all (fee is waived if you buy a bottle). Stop by for an intimate experience – we loved meeting the owners!
Forrest Estate Wines*
Gorgeous ambiance. A tasting tray of 6 wines of your choice costs $7.
Giesen Wines Cellar Door*
Known for their incredible food, their free wine tasting was also fabulous! A great stop for lunch.
Free wine tasting in an artsy setting with a cute garden. I loved the animated lady who talked us through the wines.
Rock Ferry Wines
You can choose any wines to taste for $5 (fee is waived if you buy a bottle).
Sitting on top of a hill, this winery provides gorgeous views. The tastings all cost money, with the least expensive being $6. We found this a bit too prissy (and pricy) for our tastes, but to each his own.
This place had a beautiful ambiance, a friendly & animated staff, and free tastings.
Have you heard of Marlborough? What’s your favorite vineyard in the world?