Cycle by the vines in Blenheim. © Matteo Columbo

Get outdoors: five vineyards to visit by bike in Blenheim

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The best way to get around the multitude of vineyards in this pocket of Marlborough is by bike. Flat, straight roads and cycle paths that wind through the vines make for almost effortless cycling, especially as the wineries are all within easy proximity of each other.  

1. Forrest Estate 

Forrest Estate on Blicks Road, Renwick is founded by and named after the Forrest family, pioneers in wine innovation. Patriarch, scientist and ideas man John Forrest was not only responsible for driving the screw-cap initiative that revolutionised wine around the world, but also for his remarkable insights into producing high-quality low-alcohol wine. Through clever viticulture and leaf-thinning of the vines, Forrest figured out how to produce wines with naturally lower alcohol for their range of Doctors’ wines. Their award-winning riesling is justifiably famous for its flavour profile alone – let alone the fact that it’s only 9% alcohol.  Here, you can stow your bike in the rack provided out front and enjoy a tipple at a shady table under willow trees, or on a cooler day, listen to the commentary of the cellar door staff inside by the open fire. 

2. Framingham

A two-minute pedal from Forrest is Framingham. Wander through a lush courtyard, fragrant with frothy white roses and boxed garden beds to reach the tasting room. On a warm summer’s day, visitors are invited to build their own picnic hamper from the provisions at the cellar door and sit on the manicured grass with a bottle of the vineyard’s barrel-fermented sauvignon blanc, or perhaps a classic Riesling. Framingham is home to an annual Harvest Concert to celebrate the end of each vintage. Held in the courtyard and featuring local talents, including the winery’s very own band The Renwick Nudes, the Harvest Concert sells out every year.

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These two rockers hit the main stage yesterday...parked up in the sunshine on the red velvet! Seriously awesome [email protected] favourite drop was the F-Series Old Vine Rizza & we sent @art_green home with a bottle of Nobody’s Hero Pinot Noir #inspiredbyindividuals #ruleno1dowhatyoulove 💃🕺🏽🍷💥 #Repost @matootles ・・・ Our second day in Marlborough was just as epic as the first. Started the day biking around the wineries tasting lots of tipples, finishing off with a casual sailing race 😂 what a region, what a day. We’ve been doing a taster of all that the @marlboroughfest has to offer, so if you think it’s cool (we did) then grab your tickets via the link in my bio! #MarlWineFest #MarlboroughWineandFood #MarlboroughNZ #OnlyMarlborough #NZWine

A post shared by Framingham Wines (@framinghamwines) on Oct 5, 2018 at 6:50pm PDT

3. Bladen Wines

Just a few hundred metres up the road you’ll find Bladen Wines. While, like many of the Blenheim vineyards, the vines here were planted some 20 years ago, Bladen is a quieter affair than its slick, branded neighbours. In a modest tasting room at the end of a winding gravel drive you can sample rosé with notes of Turkish delight, lychee and spiced ginger; a smooth and rounded pinot gris, produced from some of the oldest vines for the varietal in Marlborough and a spicy gewürztraminer with aromas of honeysuckle and rose petal.

4. Wairau River

Established by Phil and Chris Rose way back in 1978, Wairau River Wines is one of Blenheim’s oldest vineyards. For several years the site produced grapes that were sold to other wineries, until 1991 when Wairau River Wines was created as the vineyard’s own label. Since then, the winery has branched out from classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc to include lesser-known varietals including Grüner Veltliner and Albariño, available for tasting and alongside the well-crafted menu of their onsite restaurant. Time your visit to Wairau River for lunchtime and stay for a bite in the rustic restaurant or outside next to the vines. 

5. Nautilus Estate

Sparkling wine makes any occasion feel a little bit special. Nautilus Estate is famous for their bubbles and, if you’re lucky enough, they may have some of their extra-special bottles open for tasting when you pop in. Like their Vintage Rosé – frothy, pink and the perfect match to the Royal New Zealand Ballet, who Nautilus Estate crafted the wine for to commemorate their 60th anniversary. Other wines that can be sampled at the sleek and sophisticated cellar door include a straw-coloured pinot gris, and a robust chardonnay, with notes of preserved lemon and nougat. 

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