Four Pinot Noir Wineries and One Lunch, Marlborough, New Zealand.


Our second day visiting Marlborough wine region had us visiting some of the global Pinot Noir heavyweights. We started at well funded Cloudy Bay, followed by family winemakers Allan Scott. We took lunch at the Brancott Estate mega tasting room, with a brief stop at the family run Whitehaven, before we concluded at Whiter Hills. Each spot had something new to try; come with us as we tested them all.

This post is one chapter on our trip to Fiji, New Zealand and French Polynesia. This trip was redeemed through Alaska Mileage Plan and AAdvantage frequent flier programs and enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Activity: Four Pinot Noir Wineries and One Lunch, Marlborough, New Zealand.

We continued our Marlborough wine tasting extravaganza by continuing on with wineries that we hadn’t visited the day before. It was a full day and we made the most of our experience in the Marlborough region.

First Stop: The Cellar Door at Cloudy Bay

We started the day from the Marlborough Vintners Hotel by visiting the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy owned and financially backed Cloudy Bay winery. Unlike most of the other visits which had complimentary tastings, we were on the hook for $10 each for premium tasting. Marlborough hasn’t completely caught on to the paid tasting concept as most of our tastings were free. The cellar door here, or rather, the gardens around it, were very leafy and surprisingly lush.

There was a nice outdoor patio which was unfortunately closed due to it being winter. In its place, there was another neat and warm crackling fire in the tasting room. It was another deserted tasting experience with us and one other couple being the only ones here for our one hour stay.

Although it was quiet, the experience was just corporate enough to be a little sterile. I would have loved the opportunity to try Cloudy Bay before they had made it pick and were purchased by Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey.


Stop Two: Allan Scott Family Winemakers

After Cloudy Bay, we headed immediately across the street to Allan Scott family winemakers. It was another small format tasting room but a much more intimate and personalized experience.

We had some great tasting Sauvignon Blanc, pinot gris and pinot noir. The wine pour host happened to be from France and had been in New Zealand for 3 years. There was also a small lunch place here but we decided to keep to our original plan to dine later on at Brancott Estate. I would have loved to have had an extra day to come back to dine here since the format looked really appealing

We picked up some Allan Scott Generations Pinot Noir which we would end up hand carrying back to Canada. It was pretty unique juice and we’d enjoy that bottle at home on a special occassion.

Stop Three: Whitehaven Cellar Door

We went onwards to Whitehaven which was across the street from our accommodation at the Marlborough Vintners Hotel. It’s situated in an odd a combination area which also has an artisan store, a restaurant (not run by the winery) and a small tasting room.

While at Whitehaven Cellar Door, we learned of an interesting story of the owner who quit corporate life, went sailing around the world for two years, settled in Marlborough and started Whitehaven, then passed away from cancer at 57 years of age. His wife and daughter now run the company and they are among the 6th most popular Sauvignon Blanc in the world. It was quite an impressive leadership story with a sad ending. The Whitehaven logo is that of a maritime theme, thanks to his past life and love of sailing.


Stop Four: Lunch at Brancott Estate

We left Whitehaven and onwards to Brancott Estate. We weren’t exactly here for the wines, which seem a bit mass produced but rather visiting for the lunch. The Brancott Estate absorbed Montana wines some time ago and has a large corporate facility which was almost over the top compared to some of the small family tasting rooms that we had experienced in the last two days. We had to wait about 40 minutes for a table so we had a very leisurely tasting while we waited for lunch.

I had the lamb rump on potato and porcini bake with wilted spinach and chimichurri sauce whereas MrsWT73 had a goat cheese tarlet with sweet potatoes salad. Both were excellent with a great view over the vineyards. MrsWT73 enjoyed another glass of rose.

It was pretty tasty although I have to say that I think Wairau River gets the hat tip for the better lunch between the two locations. The lunch time views were pretty impressive, as was the whole facility.


Last Call: Whiter Hills Cellar Door

After Brancott Estate, we headed over to Whiter Hills for the last tasting of the day. There were several off labels here with a good variety of wines available. My palette was pretty off by this point after a full day of tasting so I left most of the tasting to MrsWT73.

We arrived to a smaller but well structured facility and cellar door. Like all our other experiences, the cellar door was deserted and completely empty except for us.

We retired back to the Marlborough Vintners Hotel for another nap; having not shaken the jet lag. We later ventured out and had a light dinner with ham sandwiches and Chicken and Mushroom soup by Wattie’s from the PAK and Save grocery store in our room. It wasn’t super glamorous but sometimes the comforts of home are better than another night out on the town on a busy travel schedule.

My Thoughts on Cloudy Bay, Allan Scott, Whitehaven, Brancott Estate and Whiter Hills:

There are so many wonderful world class wines in Marlborough, it’s hard to know where to start. Each of these wineries compete on the global scale, but each offered a different visit experience. The LVMH owned Cloudy Bay and the mega funded Brancott Estate offered a pretty sterile experience. Whereas the family run Allan Scott and Whiter Hills offered a better tasting and visit experience. No matter which winery you end up with. there’s lots in this region to choose from.

If you visited Marlborough for New Zealand Wine Tourism, which cellar door was your favourite ?

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