Blenheim is a small town that was for us a good stop between the ferry port and our next hiking spot. We were also told that the town has a concentrated number of wineries. Music to my lips.
We booked a private studio on Air BnB, that was adjacent to the hosts main home. The hosts were lovely and you can find their Air Bnb link Here if you are in the area. The home was a 5 minute drive from the main cluster of wineries but there are hotel options next to wineries if you want to be even closer. Depending on how much you drink, you can safely drive around to the wineries because the town is small and the roads are fairly vacant. We decided it was important to earn our wine (and also that it would be fun to ride bikes with a heavy buzz) so we opted for the Wine Tours By Bike run by Jo and Steve. It costs $45 NZD per person. This is a great tour because the logistics are taken care of and it is self guided. They pick you up and drop you off so there is no driving (more wine!)
Jo, so friendly, picked us up at 11:30 am and drove us to the property where the bikes are stored. The tour price provided us with our bike (that has a saddle made to carry wine bottles), a helmet, a map and the pick up/drop off. Steve ran through information on about 15 of their favorite wineries (there are about 140 in the region). Now charged with information, we planned our attack.
We went to Cloudy Bay Winery first which is a 30 minute bike ride, against the wind, on a highway. The views are pretty but in hindsight we suggest driving to this spot either the day before or the day after because it is isolated. It’s one of the nicer wineries so you would want to do the tasting and enjoy a bottle or a glass in the scenic yard. We shared a tasting of 5 wines that was $10NZD ( surprisingly on the higher end in Blenheim). Cloudy Bay is the ambassador of wine in that region and the most well known internationally.
After Cloudy Bay, we rode to Vines Village which was about 15 mins away but we were feeling good! Vines Village was not as scenic but the sommelier was very sweet and partners with our bike company, so we each did a 5 wine tastings for $2NZD. We favored the “Greg” from 2013 for its strong jalapeño under current and well balanced crispness, so we purchased a bottle. While Nate could be the world’s worst sommelier, he liked this winery the most.
At this point, we were feeling great, especially because we were too concerned with wine to even eat lunch. We put on some tunes from our phone and rode off to our next cellar door. We were now at the point in our journey where each winery is about 2-5 minutes apart.
We came up to the Number One Family Winery which specializes in bubbles (champagne) but from a different part of France. This was a small venue and we did two tastings each for no charge. The winery felt outdated and can be best described as “grandma fancy”. Think dusty, with crystal chandeliers and Chanel no. 5. The tasting was great, however I’m sure our palettes are not sophisticated enough to know the difference between Korbel and what they served us.
Our next winery was an organic family run winery called Hiua and we are about 3 hours into our ride (picture two people slowly cycling down a dirt road, singing to Adeles “Hello”). We lost count on how many tastings we did but we know they were free of charge. We purchased a half bottle of the Pinot Noir and I’m not sure I remember what it tastes like but I’ll find out when it gets opened later.
By 4 pm, our stomachs finally got the best of us so we stopped at the Geisen Winery. Not only do they also serve free tastings but food as well. We indulged in a cheese platter since the main kitchen had closed. We were either starving and drunk or this was the best cheese platter ever, possibly both.
Our final stop was at where we had 4 more free tastings each and then played in the vineyard. We cycled bike on a much nicer bike path the leads you directly to our tour base. With smiles on our face, we handed everything back in and got chaperoned back home. Starving for dinner and after we sobered up, we drove into town to have Asian Fushion Food at Lemon Grass, which seems to be a chain. The waiter was really sweet and the food hit the spot after the day’s shenanigans.
Sadly our life can’t live in the phrase #roseallday so the next day we left to experience the infamous hiking in Abel Tasmen National Park.