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Published: September 27th 2010
Marlborough Wine Country
View from the tower at Highfield Estate.
Today we got up and drove to Wine Tours by Bike and got our bikes, some water, helmets (they are required by law here), and a map of where to go. Also were some wine holders if you bought any bottles, and the service of them coming to pick up wine (if you bought more than your bike could hold!) Nigel was incredibly nice and helpful in helping us plan what route to take and which wineries to visit. He gave us the specialties of each winery and told us which wines were worth trying. It was really windy, so the biking wasn't very easy. We visited about 7 wineries (there were way more, but we ran out of time). They ranged from very small, family run places, to bigger, more commercial places. There were three other girls in the group with us. We stayed together the whole day. The wines were pretty good. Lots of white wines. Sauvignon Blanc is a very popular style down here. So popular in fact, there are slightly different varieties of it. Their Chardonnay's are pretty good here too, because some are un-oaked, or just very lightly oaked.
Our First stop was Wither Hills, where Nigel had indicated that their Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay were not to be missed. Their selection of wines was nice, and the staff was very friendly. Off next was a 2km ride to Villa Maria. They also had a nice selection, and while you could get some of their wine back in the states, they had a tier system, so that they had bottles and styles of wine that you could only get there. Their dessert wine, a 2009 Marlborough Noble Riesling Botrytis Selection was fantastic. Sweet and fruity. From there was the long 3km ride against the wind to Highfield Estate. It's a beautiful winery. Very fancy and picturesque. We decided to have some lunch while we were there. While expensive, the seafood chowder we got was amazing. After lunch we had some wine and walked up into the tower (which had a nice view of the area).
We then went to Isabel Estate, which felt smaller and more personable - especially since it's run by a family. They were incredibly friendly and it was a lot of fun to sample their wines. We then went to Te Whare Ra, which was another small, family run place. Their tasting room was upstairs and a bit small, considering by the time we got arrived there were a lot of people there. Their wines were really good. Then we stopped by Fromm, which was small and lovely. The woman who helped us was friendly, knowledgeable and good natured. It was also not as crowded, so that was nice as well. Our last stop was River Farm Wines, which was close by to Fromm. Their tasting room was packed (probably because it was nearing the end of the day). Not only did they have wine to sample, but they had their own olive oil as well. They also put out cheese samples. It was a fun last stop before the long 5+km ride back to the start. Luckily the ride back was the best, because a lot of it was downhill and our legs were pretty tired! It was a fun day. Most everyone was friendly and good about answering all our questions. We got to see some of the cellar rooms, which was pretty cool, and it was just a good exposure to wine from the area.
Tomorrow we are taking a ferry back up to Wellington and working our way back up north. We placed an ad online for our van yesterday and have gotten a pretty good response back so far. We'll see what they think after seeing the pictures!
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