I 100% confess to a horrible pre-conceived bias against poor Marlborough. Basically, because the region produces the most of New Zealand, and mostly Sauvignon Blanc, I associated Marlborough with cheap, mass-produced Sauvignon Blanc and wineries that were a lot more like factories than wineries.
Boy, was I in for a treat when we got there.
My first reaction was “wow – this is BEAUTIFUL.” Our time in Marlborough was spent in a close-knit neighborhood of vineyards and wineries, and we actually spent one day touring vineyards on bikes rented from our hostel. So fun!
We went to two or three wineries each day in Marlborough – some scheduled appointments, some tastings.
I was surprised by a couple things: one, our first day in Marlborough was Mother’s Day, and happy families and brunch menus sort of saturated the air. I got a quick FaceTime in with my amazing momma and the rest of the fam, which was awesome. It was great to see that the spirit of Mother’s Day Brunch transcends thousands of miles. 😀
1. Clos Henri – A Pinot and Sauvignon Blanc producer who makes their wines in a Sancerre style. Delicious wines, and I snuck a picture of the cellar master Johann talking about the vineyard:
2. Seresin – hehe, for a second I was like “oh shoot, I don’t remember ANYTHING about this place.” Then I remembered that whichever morning this was, Cody went to a couple tastings by himself while I went for a walk, read, and sipped on coffees and teas while my post-harvest cold lived out its final hours. I know Cody had an amazing time, though, and learned a ton.
3. Fromm – see #2
4. Te Whare Ra – get this: this winery is pronounced “Tay Fah-ray Rah.” Whaaa? It’s Maori. But I cannot for the life of me figure out linguistically why Wh would make a “ff” sound – but then again, we have troughs and coughs.
We were especially excited about Te Whare Ra because it’s the small project of a husband and wife team, Jason and Anna Flowerday. Anna showed us around the winery and vineyard property, introduced us to her cows and their well-made compost pile, and tasted us through some yummy barrel samples (my favorite was the 2013 Gewurz).
Helloooo, not-yet-settled vino.
Te Whare Ra is a biodynamic property, which I sort of touched on in Central Otago. Essentially, the vineyard is more like a farm than anything else. The Flowerdays have their own pet cows, who are instrumental in fertilizing the soil between vineyard rows, and I’m sure also make great company. Behind the winery are these beautiful brick wells filled with one of the biodynamic mixtures that gets sprinkled over the soil.
The Flowerdays also use different types of cover crop on their vineyard, so we got to talk horticulture and viticulture and bioculture and all these other cultures with Anna. I was essentially in awe, and took tons of stalker-y pictures so that Cody and I can be just like Jason and Anna someday.
5. Our last tour in Marlborough was at Dog Point Vineyards, which definitely lived up to its name in terms of friendly wine dogs. Co-owner/winemaker James Healy drove us right up the vineyard, dished about soil and sub-region terroir with Cody (I took pictures), and shared some delicious wines with us.
That night we went to a restaurant in Blenheim called Raupo that overlooked a lovely stream. We ordered a bottle of Bel Echo Sauvignon Blanc, Clos Henri’s second tier bottling, and enjoyed it was some incredible pumpkin gnocchi and chicken. I basically love pumpkin anything.
Any dining establish, or any place ever, really, gets bonus points for wooden shoes. Shout out to the Orange City Tulip Festival this week!
We also stopped at a few wineries on our bike tour, including Cloudy Bay and Framingham Wines, both of which were exciting for different regions – Cloudy Bay makes a couple particularly yummy sparkling wines, and Framingham was just featured by one of our favorite wine bloggers for being awesome.
Ta da! Marlborough, I’m so sorry I thought you only made yucky Sauvignon Blanc. I promise I am now reformed, and know for sure that there are a bunch of exceptional wineries, vineyards, and wines going on in your beaaaaautiful region.