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Fine wine and fine touring in New Zealand

Vintage is fast approaching on this side of the world.

With the grape harvest looming I thought now would be a great time to look at some of New Zealand's wine regions and how you can incorporate your love of wine with your love of traveling in a wine region tour.

Marlborough Winery Lunch

Waiheke Island

This Hauraki Gulf island is home to many small vineyards producing critically acclaimed wines that you are unlikely to find back home.   Though only a short ferry ride from New Zealand’s largest city of Auckland, you enter a different world when you hop off the ferry.  Waiheke has a micro-climate all its own and laid back relaxed feeling of years ago.  The unique microclimate means Waiheke vineyards can grow and ripen a wider range of grape varieties for your tasting pleasure. 

When you’re not comparing syrahs there are sandy beaches and walking tracks to enjoy or sample the gourmet delights from the popular winery restaurants.  After a day of imbibing the perfect place to wind down and soak up the coastal vistas is the Boat Shed luxury hotel, intimate and relaxed at its best.

Hawkes Bay

As the oldest wine growing region in New Zealand, the Hawkes Bay wineries have had time to perfect their craft.  This is most telling when you taste their reds, in particular the cabernet merlot, 'luscious ripe fruit flavors' describe it best.  The rising stars of this region are the wines produced from Gimblett Gravels grapes.  Syrahs from Trinity Hill and Crossroads vineyards recently shone at the Sydney International Wine Competition and Craggy Range Winery with its fantastic restaurant is well worth a visit. 

While in the Hawkes Bay, explore the art deco architecture of Napier and enjoy the fresh food and local produce grown in this hot house climate.  There is so much enthusiasm for food and wine in this region, you will go home inspired and possibly a few pounds heavier, but definitely happier.  If you can't leave the vineyards, why not spend the night. Breckenridge Lodge just outside of Napier looks out over rows of grapes in a peaceful country setting.

Marlborough

Heading to the South Island now, we visit the region that first propelled New Zealand into the international wine arena.  Marlborough's zesty fruit flavored white wines took the world by storm, in particular their sauvignon blanc.  When touring the vineyards keep an eye out for the 2010 vintage which was described as perfection – so expect a taste explosion.  

There is so much more to this region than wine and the best way to explore is by water on the Marlborough Sounds, or walking the coastal Queen Charlotte Track. At the end of your busy day, Hotel D'Urville offers character, charm and welcome that you don't find in big hotels.

Central Otago

The most southerly wine producing region in the world and the highest in New Zealand, this dramatic environment produces similarly dramatic wines, in particular pinot noir, which you can't leave New Zealand without tasting.  In contrast to the other regions, Central Otago is more similar to Europe and during a single day can have an extreme range in temperature -- producing an amazing flavor intensity and depth of colour.

This extreme in temperatures also provides a host of opportunities for adventure. Luckily Queenstown, the adventure capital of the country, is nearby when you need to work off the gourmet delights. A restful luxurious space to recover from your day's adventure is Matakauri Lodge.  With stunning views and pure indulgence this is the perfect way to celebrate your journey's end.