In July 1972, Marlborough County Council Livestock Instructor, S.G.C. Newdick, wrote “Vineyards: in regard to these, as there is a glut on the market of grapes there does not appear to be any likelihood of vineyards starting up in Marlborough in the foreseeable future.” In the intervening years Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc single-handedly put the New Zealand wine industry on the world map, and made the Marlborough Wine Country the largest wine region, with almost sixty percent of the national grape crop.
Many wineries go all out to attract visitors, using distinctive architecture, classy restaurants, art and gourmet foodstuffs. The profusion of weekend visitors from Nelson, Wellington and further afield has spawned a number of smart B&Bs throughout the district, trying to out-luxury one another. If this is what you’re after there’s little need to bother with Blenheim itself, particularly since most of the vineyards are closer to the small, equally unremarkable town of Renwick, 10km to the west.Read More
In the early 1970s, BLENHEIM, 27km south of Picton, was a fairly sleepy service town set amid pastoral land: now it is a fairly sleepy service town completely surrounded by some of the most fecund and highly regarded vineyards in the land. It is also much visited and as a result has developed a passable café culture, but most of the attractions of note are beyond its rather conservative town limits.
The gravel plains that flank the Wairau River around the towns of Blenheim and Renwick form some of New Zealand’s most prized wine country. The region, sheltered by the protective hills of the Richmond Range, basks in around 2400 hours of sunshine a year, making it perfect for ripening the grapes for its esteemed Sauvignon Blanc. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes also grow well (guaranteeing tasty bubbly), as do olives, used for light golden olive oils.