After hugging the curvaceous, steep roads on the North Island, where I left you in Part 2 of our story, our bright orange campervan was ready for some smoother, coastal roads. And after tasting some robust Cabernet Sauvignons and Pinot Noirs in Hawkes Bay, I was ready for the refreshing, fruit-forward Sauvignon Blancs in Marlborough.
We headed for Wellington, which is where the Interislander Ferry transported us, and our campervan (aka Mr. Brightside), through the picturesque Marlborough Sounds to the town of Picton, which is at the northern tip of Marlborough wine country. The ride itself relaxed our tired souls as we sailed through the silent “sounds” with nothing more than a few sailboats and clouds floating by us.
As soon as the ferry dropped us off, we reunited with Mr. Brightside and continued to follow our favorite “Classic New Zealand Wine Trail” road signs. They led us to glory—star bright Sauvignon Blanc glory. We tracked the signs until I saw the first hint of vineyards. As a bonus, flocks of fluffy sheep were gently grazing in between the vines. We even pulled down a dirt road to get a closer look at the sheep before we began our cellar door tour. We arrived a little late, so most places were closed for the day, but we entered our first winery with no problem, purchased a few bottles and drank the night away under the stars.
We woke early to spend the next two days exploring Marlborough. So many cellar doors are located close to each other so everything is really easy. We checked out Herzog, Nautilus Estate, Brancott Estates, St. Clair, Cloudy Bay, Giesen, Highfield and a bunch of others that seem a little fuzzy to me. I could spend all day at each one, but there are just too many. We aimed for a nice mix of casual cellar doors, including smaller ones we’d duck into on a whim along with other fancier ones, such as Wither Hills, consisting of stunning buildings and modern art. It’s easy to fall in love with Marlborough. Much like tasting Cabernet Sauvignons in Napa Valley, every place has unique and amazing Sauvignon Blancs that they love to tell you about. (But note: True kiwis will never brag to you.)
As I promised with my compromises, I couldn’t keep my friends in Marlborough forever. They wanted to hit other southern and adventure-filled cities, so I obliged. With a sad face and a sober mind, I took the wheel of Mr. Brightside and drove away from Marlborough. The “wine trail” signs no longer popped up on the side of the road. But the snowy Southern Alps sprung up to our right as we drove parallel to the Pacific Ocean on our left. The idyllic scenery eased the blow of leaving wine country. Then out of nowhere, I saw a broken sign that pointed to a winery. With my friends sleeping in the back, I went for it. My friends would never know. And if they woke up, what’s another winery to them?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Orignally from Missouri, Katie has lived in Switzerland, Chicago, San Francisco. Brooklyn and Arizona-and prefers to live in close proximity to old vines. Her first job in college was pouring wines and pruning wines at a winery in Augusta, Missouri which was the first designated AVA in American. Since then, Katie has spend several years working in corporate America as a copywriter and content marketer. She now works for herself because "her boss" adheres to a strict unlimited winery vacation policy. Follow her tasting and travel notes: @eieigel.