Blenheim is situated in the Marlborough region of New Zealand on the north east corner of the South Island, due west of Wellington city. For centuries it has offered safe harbour to travellers sailing to the spectacular South Island: first the Maori traders and war parties; then explorers like Captain James Cook and Dumont d’Urville; and now, to visitors seeking a retreat from city pressures, as they discover the unspoilt haven and foodie heaven that is Marlborough today. Blenheim’s attractions include its wine industry, the Marlborough Sounds, gourmet foods and adventure activities.
BLENHEIM AND MARLBOROUGH WINERIES
Blenheim is the focal point for the Marlborough wine growing region. A number of wineries are located on the towns edges, with many more just a short drive away. Synonymous internationally for its distinctive, herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc. It is New Zealand’s largest winemaking region with around 65 wineries and 290 grape growers and over 4000 hectares planted in grapes, mainly Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. The annual Wine Marlborough festival (second Saturday in February each year) is held in Blenheim. It is a show-case for the region’s bounty and draws people from all over the world to taste Marlborough’s wines.
The original grape plantings were on the southern fringes of the plain, but have since spread across the landscape onto the river flats of the Rapaura district, west to the Waihopai and lower Wairau and further south into the Awatere Valley.
From these plantings has come a string of national and international awards, vindicating the region’s excellence in producing both still and sparkling wines. The jewel in the Marlborough crown is undoubtedly its sauvignon blanc wines, critically acclaimed as among the best in the world.
Those same climatic and soil qualities that ensure the success of the region’s wines, also help to produce fine fruits and vegetables, seafoods, meats, and dairy products which have collectively earned Marlborough the title “Gourmet Province of New Zealand.”
Villa Maria is one of New Zealand’s leading winemakers. Villa Maria has been New Zealand’s leading wine award winner, both nationally and internationally since the early 1980s. Villa Maria’s talented people have an unrelenting passion to produce quality wines. Realising that it takes more than just good winemaking to produce quality, a passion to succeed begins in the vineyard.
Huia Vineyards was established by Winemakers Claire and Mike Allan, who were drawn to Marlborough by the intense fruit flavours in the wines. This boutique-sized Marlborough wine company is committed to the production of premium and classical Marlborough wines. Huia is focused on hand crafting fine unique wines expressing the richness of Marlborough grapes from the vineyard through to the table. Blending modern and traditional techniques Huia makes seven premium wine varieties: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Vintage Huia Brut. Claire and Mike Allan were drawn to Marlborough by the intense fruit flavours in the wines. They gained further winemaking experience in key Marlborough wineries, along with an extended stage in Champagne, France.
Lawson’s Dry Hills
Ross and Barbara Lawson founded Lawson’s Dry Hills in 1992, they had been growing Gewürztraminer grapes for other wine companies on their Alabama road vineyard since 1980.
Their first vintage, which included the Gewürztraminer grown on the Alabama road vineyard, was just fifteen tonnes and was managed by Ross from the old tin shed on the property, which is still standing and forms part of the winery cellar door.
Their Gewürztraminer has gone on to be recognised as one of the country’s finest and has firmly established Lawson’s Dry Hills on the national and international wine stage.
Other plantings soon followed and the company now produce a benchmark range of Marlborough wines including Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, as well as outstanding Gewürztraminer. All the grapes for Lawson’s Dry Hills are sourced from Marlborough’s Wairau, Waihopai, Omaka and Brancott valleys.
Allan Scott Wines
Allan Scott Wines & Estates Ltd is a family owned and operated vineyard and winery group. In 1985 the family moved to the Rapaura district where they developed their first block of Sauvignon Blanc. The winery facility was architecturally designed and built in 1990, from rammed earth and rough sawn timber for a sophisticated yet rustic appearance. The winery is firmly nestled amongst the prime vineyards in Jackson’s Road surrounded by mature trees and manicured gardens where the Cellar Door shop and Twelve Trees Restaurant complete the facilities available. An ongoing desire to create aromatic estate grown and produced wines is reflected in the expansive range of wines produced at the winery.
As the Marlborough region has gained a well deserved reputation as a wine and food haven, Allan Scott Wines has developed its own reputation as a Marlborough icon and a sound name for outstanding wines and fine food. Quality and absolute dedication to achieving the best is the key to Allan Scott Wines. The company prides itself on viticultural excellence, extending through to the finished product.