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Trails of a different variety

January 8, 2009

Forget your hiking boots, compass, map and fitness level, this trail has a new set of needs.

Instead what you will need is a good nose, an ability to distinguish subtle flavours like freshly cut grass or hints of pepper, and  passion. A passion for Bacchus’s  favourite beverage. By passion I mean the thrill and enjoyment you get from understanding the craftsmanship behind the drink, rather than the pleasure from drinking it.

On these trails you will not only enjoy scenic delights, sample and sip, but you will have a special opportunity to visit some of New Zealand’s  best kept secrets in the area of winemaking: small boutique wineries. Where driving into the vineyard you are greeted by “Rusty” the old zealous dog with it’s overused bark, or quacks from the frazzled ducks asleep on pond.

You will get to hear the stories behind the vintage you’re sampling, told by the winemaker sometimes the owner. There is history in these boutique wineries –  new history but old stories blended into the mood of the winery and the taste of the wine.

Wine producing regions in New Zealand have expanded significantly during the past 10 years. North past Auckland, the east coast of both North and South islands, Marlbourough, Nelson, and Central Otago. Heat loving travellers take note – these are also some of the hottest and driest regions in the country.

It’s easy to visit some of the bigger wineries around, but to get to the smaller ones, the boutique ones, you need know how, and transport. Some places offer – for a price – wine trail excursions. But sometimes its just nice to be able to go there in your own time.

Driving and drinking is not recommended, but designate a driver to abstain, take a well informed map and enjoy the local kiwi hospitality.

Personally I recommend the Wairarapa region (east coast, North Island) as a place off the tourist route. Martinborough is very popular with local tourists during summer, but drive a little way past this region and you can find popping up like mushrooms – small wineries. Pinot Noir and Gris, fast becoming the preferred wines on New Zealand tables, are great choices from this area to sample.

Add Marlbourough to your trail list and you can try out some of the finer sauvignon blancs. The bigger wineries are located around this area, but if you’re adventurous enough and have the time, you can happen upon a boutique gem.

And if wine is not your thing, designate yourself as the driver and give your friends a good time. Just driving along these smaller country roads is reward itself. The rich golden colours of sunburnt paddocks, rows of lush green grape leaves all backdropped by rolling hills. Enticing.

If you want to know more about the Wine Trails check out this great site  Classic New Zealand Wine Trail

Wishing it was summertime.

(photos courtesty of Classic New Zealand Wine Trail, and Destination Marlbourough)

Caffeinated Traveller

  1. Bear permalink
    January 9, 2009 8:42 pm

    Get the passport, reserve a batch and get lost in New Zealand 🙂

    • January 11, 2009 3:34 am

      Bear – sounds idyllic

  2. January 9, 2009 11:35 pm

    So … do you have any advice for those of us visiting NZ that prefer a craft brew to wine?

  3. January 10, 2009 12:26 am

    Mmmm…. Sounds like a wonderful way to tour the countryside! Are there any New Zealand wines (particularly reds) or vineyards that I should look for here in the states?

    • January 11, 2009 3:34 am

      Hmmm thats a difficult question Heather. Most kiwi wines go to the UK. But if you do happen to know of a supplier there are a couple of oldies but goodies: Cloudy Bay and Kin Crawford. If the supplier is a specialist then you could ask for Martinbourough wines such as Ata Rangi celebre, Gladstone, Murdoch Estate pinot or Palliser Bay if you can find them. But I would think you will have to mortgage your home for these ones.
      Good luck.

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