On Tour: Wellington –> Blenheim –> Kaikoura –> Mt Lyford –> Christchurch
If you ever find yourself traveling from Wellington to the South Island and are debating whether to fly or take the ferry, take the ferry. Sure, it may be a bit slower than flying, but nothing beats the views of the sounds after crossing the Cook Strait. This scenic cruise will make you appreciate the beauty of slow travel. With nowhere to go and poor cell reception, you can put down your phone and take in the captivating landscape.
The added bonus to taking the ferry is that at the end of the ride, you find yourself magically transported into the heart of New Zealand’s wine country. If you rent a car in Picton you can enjoy the twenty-minute drive to Blenheim where, along the way, you’ll pass vineyards interspersed with picturesque farmland.
On this particular trip, we were on the 1:30pm ferry and didn’t dock in Picton until 5:00pm, when most of the tasting rooms had turned in for the night. Not wanting my mom to miss out on Marlborough’s world-famous Sauvignon blanc, I knew just where to take her.
We dropped our bags off at the Airbnb and hightailed it to The Wine Station, a tasting room housed in the renovated Blenheim Railway Station. They’re open from 9:30am-7:30pm and offer a selection of over 80 wines from across the region, many from wineries without their own tasting rooms. This is a great spot to discover some of the smaller wineries in the area.
Wine is served out of automated wine dispensers with six bottles in each of the gizmos, categorized by varietal. Once you decide what to try, you can select one of three sizes to purchase: a tasting, a half glass or a full glass. To use the machine you are given a swipe card which will track your selections. Not all of the wines cost the same, the average taste was about $2.75 but some were as high as $5.00.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the choices, the staff are incredibly helpful and will point you in the right direction. My favorite discovery of the night was Greywacke’s “Wild Sauvignon” Blanc. I’m not usually a fan of Sauvignon Blancs but this A-typical Sav totally hit the spot. St Clair’s Pioneer Block 11 Cell Block Sauvignon Blanc was a close second and might be easier to find in stores.
Once you’ve settled on a favorite, pour yourself a full glass and find a comfy spot to relax. Both sides of the Station have wood-burning fireplaces, which adds to the ambiance and is also very practical for warming up on chilly nights. If you get peckish, they offer lovely charcuterie boards to go with your wine.
Pro Tip: If you’re still feeling hungry then head to Cartel, a Mexican joint in town with amazing burritos (and their margaritas are pretty darn tasty too!). Just be smart and.don’t drink and drive. Uber doesn’t offer service in Blenheim but you can call Marlborough Taxi (+64 3 577 5511) for a ride.
The next time I’m in Blenheim, I will definitely be back to The Wine Station to see what’s new. I’m also keen to visit a few other tasting rooms in the area. Hopefully, by then I’ll have convinced Pete that a tandem bicycle wine tasting tour is actually an excellent idea. A girl can dream.