Located at the northeastern tip of South Island, Marlborough is the largest wine region in New Zealand. Marlborough wineries & vineyards are world-famous. They’re most known for producing some of world’s best-tasting Sauvignon Blanc wines.
Marlborough has an optimal climate for producing world-class wines. The region features cool temperatures, low rainfall, and sunshine. Unsurprisingly, vineyards in Marlborough produce the most award-winning wines in New Zealand.
Ready to taste the wide range of wines in Marlborough? Get started with this guide to the top wineries, vineyards & cellar doors in Marlborough.
Top wineyards & wineries in Marlborough
Brancott Estate stakes claim as the first site of Sauvignon Blanc plantings in the Marlborough region. Today, Brancott Estate focuses on producing premium wines while protecting the environment. They helped found a sustainable wine-growing practice many other regional wineries have now adopted.
Brancott Estate makes several superb wines. Varieties include both white & red varietals along with sparkling wines, rosés, and dessert wines. Overlooking this gorgeous vineyard is the Brancott Estate Cellar Door and Restaurant. Both are Qualmarked and Envriogold accredited. They offer exclusive wine tastings and experiences to sample their finest wines paired with fresh, tasty food. You’ll also enjoy dramatic panoramic mountain views.
Something special about Brancott Estate is its commitment to wildlife and the environment. A dollar from every bottle of their organic wine is donated to saving the New Zealand Falcon. This rare bird of prey naturally keeps the vineyards pest-free.
Giesen Wines owns 13 vineyards throughout the Wairau Valley. Among them, about 11% are certified organic by Biogro New Zealand. The Giesen vineyards and winery are family owned and operated. They’re not only dedicated to producing top-quality wines; they’re also focused on sustainability. They compost their winery’s by-products to help add nutrients back to the soil. They also reuse their wine barrels.
The winery has received several awards on the international wine stage. Accolades include Winery of the Year and the World’s Best Pinot Noir. Giesen Wines has also received the 3rd-highest scoring NZ chardonnay ever and amassed over 40 trophies and 180+ gold trophies.
Stop in for a wine flight paired with a cheese platter lunch to see what the fuss is about.
Nautilus Estate focuses on producing craft wines using several distinct fruit layers. Each wine is full-bodied and textured. Their vivid wines are designed to be paired with food for any occasion, no matter how small or special.
The winery & vineyard has been family owned since 1985. Their upgraded cellar door at Nautilus Estate is open daily from 10:00am to 4:30pm. You’ll be able to sample several wines paired with local fruits. You can also book several different tour experiences here.
Wairau River Wines
The beautiful banks of the Wairau River have been home to the Rose Family and their Wairau River Winery since 1978. The family opened their cellar door and restaurant in 1991. It was one of the region’s first dedicated wine tourism destinations. The restaurant is known for pairing irresistible wine with fresh, seasonal food.
Wairau River Wines focuses on two ranges of wine: their Estate Range and Reserve Range. The Estate Range is distinct & elegant, designed to meet the needs of any occasion. The Reserve Range uses the vineyard’s rarest and most special grapes bunches.
Framingham Wines is famed for hosting some of the oldest Riesling vines in the Marlborough region. Originally planted in 1981, Framingham Riesling is one of the best around. The winery also creates wonderful Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Viognier, & Chardonnay. For red wines, Pinot Noir is their jam. Located on the Golden Mile, the winery is open daily. The last tasting session starts at 4:15pm.
SEE ALSO: Must-Visit Auckland Wineries & Vineyards
Framingham Wines is devoted to sustainable practices. They take a low-impact approach, farming & harvesting their vines by hand. It’s been certified and accredited as a sustainable organic vineyard. Both the Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand Program and BioGro NZ Ltd. have given it the thumbs-up. The result is that Framingham offers some of the finest organic wines in New Zealand.
What’s most special about Framingham Wines is their music events and wine club. The winery is home to Framingham Underground and the Framingham Harvest Concert. At their venues, they love promoting local artists, musicians, and other creative expressionists.
Allan Scott Family Winemakers
Allan Scott Family Winemakers is one of the premier independent vineyards in the Marlborough region. Allan Scott has spent much of his life working in vineyards. As he got older, he established his own winery, planting new vineyards and inheriting some of the originals. The Marlborough winery is now family-owned and operated. They manage four separate vineyards, established in 1980, 1982, 1985, and 2000.
The cellar door at Allan Scott Family Winemakers features state-of-the-art Enomatic machines. They ensure the freshest tasting wine with every pour. Open Wednesday through Sunday, the cellar door isn’t just famous for its excellent wines. The building itself is designed to give a beautiful outdoor & indoor dining experience. You’ll also get an exclusive chance to taste wines only available at the cellar door.
Besides the cellar door, visit the casual, yet vibrant, on-site bistro. It’s popular with locals for serving up great wine, delicious food, and good vibes.
Saint Clair Family Estate
Saint Clair Family Estate is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 Chardonnay wine producers in the world. The winery was established in 1994. The owners have, however, been growing & producing wine in Marlborough since 1978.
Committed to making world-class wines, Saint Clair Family Estate owns seven wineries in the Marlborough region. It allows them to choose only best quality grapes to produce their wines.
The vineyards use a grading system and a sustainable approach to growing. They use minimal sprays, have an open canopy, and pluck leaves to optimize quality.
The Vineyard Kitchen has indoor & outdoor seating with stunning views over the vineyards. Its got a wide-ranging food menu to pair with all the wonderful wine varieties.
Villa Maria Wines
Villa Maria Wines is held in high esteem as New Zealand’s most-awarded winery. Villa Maria approaches winemaking as an artform. In less than 50 years, Villa Maria went from a one-person operation to employing nearly 300 people.
The winery grows about 30 grape varieties, including their legendary Sauvignon Blanc. Besides Sauvignon Blanc, Villa Maria Wines creates superb Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay wines.
The Villa Maria Gimblett Gravels Cellar Door has recently been updated & renovated. They’ve created an intimate and classy space for private bookings and tastings. Gimblett Gravels pairs sample flights with palette-pleasing foods prepared by a professional chef.
How to get to the Marlborough Wine Region
The Marlborough Wine Regions sits around the northeastern tip of South Island. It’s wedged between Tasman to the north and Canterbury to the south.
If your New Zealand road trip is whisking you from North Island to South Island, Marlborough is an excellent stopover. It’s a short 30-minute drive from Picton where the ferry from Wellington arrives.
Many of the most popular Marlborough vineyards & wineries are located close to one another. One of the best ways to visit multiple wineries & cellar doors in a day is by renting a bike in Blenheim. If you’re not into a self-guided biking tour (or want company), you can also join in on a guided winery tour (with bikes or without bikes).