When harvest time rolls around each year during autumn many wineries either close or reduce the hours their cellar doors are open for you and me to visit, they need to focus on making great wine and then often travel around New Zealand or head overseas visiting existing outlets that stock their wares and searching out new markets. Then along comes Labour Weekend and everyone is back to summer trading hours.
Labour weekend is the perfect time to spend some time visiting wineries in the region to taste new release wines and checking what’s changed and what’s new. At the recent new release tasting I tasted some wonderful wines from the 2014 vintage and some beautiful wines, newly released, from previous vintages, once again you can visit the homes of these wines and try them for yourself.
Over the winter wine producers also take the opportunity to have an annual holiday and to make changes to their cellar doors. This year Kahurangi Estate built a cover over their wood-fired pizza oven so they can cook delicious, crispy pizzas for you even when the weather is a touch unpleasant.
However the biggest change this year took place at Woollaston Estates; it has always been a bit of a struggle for them to keep everyone happy in their small cellar door outlet so they have moved the offices and turned the area into more indoor seating with stunning views over their vineyards. That means you can taste some wonderful award winning wines and enjoy the delicious treats made from fresh local produce by the new chef either in the shade or out of any inclement summer weather. With fantastic sculptures placed around the property and a small art gallery within the cellar door Woollaston Estates is one place you must see.
Labour weekend has three days and coincidentally the Nelson wine region has three sub-regions, I think that is the perfect balance. The Waimea Plains is home to the some of the larger wine producers, as well as some of the best producers, in the region. Waimea Estates are closest to Richmond and as well as having a superb range of award winning wines have an excellent café. Seifried Estate are the largest local producers and they have a very good restaurant at their cellar door, perfect for indoor and outdoor dining.
Fossil Ridge Wines in the Richmond foothills has to be one of the most beautiful cellar door facilities in the region, enjoy delicious food and very good wines while sitting in one of the many outdoor dining areas that are dotted around the pond or maybe just sit on the deck in the shade while you enjoy a glass or two of wine.
Head to the Moutere Hills and right on the doorstep to the Upper Moutere Village you will find Kahurangi Estate where you can enjoy some of the most delicious pizzas in the region and sample not only the wines they make on site but also taste some of the international wines they import and distribute. If you a feeling like a slightly naughty treat I can recommend the ice cream that has been rolled in crushed coffee and served with a glass of rich, dark sherry for you to pour over the ice cream.
Further up the Sunrise Valley road tucked in the valley behind Kahurangi Estate you will find Moutere Hills Vineyard & Cafe where you can sit on their expansive deck or at a picnic table to enjoy the treats that appear from the kitchen and try some very good wines made onsite by the talented Patrick Stowe from Rimu Grove Wines.
It may not be a winery but you can also drop in to the Moutere Inn where they have a lovely range of wines, especially from wineries that don’t have a cellar door for you to visit to go with the boutique beers and great food they serve.
By know you have probably realised I have been writing about cellar door outlets that also have cafes or restaurants as part of their operation, I know you will need plenty of great food if you are visiting wineries but even with plenty of food make sure you also have a sober driver to make sure you enjoy your day and get home safely.
At the Old Post Office Store in the Upper Moutere village you will find some delicious local chesses and other treats as well as the cellar door outlet for Harakeke Wines. Just a little further along the highway you will find the turnoff to Neudorf Vineyards, arguably one of the most beautiful wineries in the region and the place their viticulturists and winemakers weave their magic to create superb wines.
If you head to the Tasman and Kina area you won’t find a cellar door with a café but you will find lovely wines and stunning views over Tasman Bay, for food head along the road to Jester House, New Zealand’s best café for 2013.
If you want to try some gold medal winning wines then you need to head to Brightwater Vineyards, Woollaston Estates (Trophy) and Kahurangi Estate to try their 2012 Pinot Noirs; Seifried Estate where you can sample their 2012 Nelson Riesling and their best in show 2014 Lighter Sauvignon Blanc; Waimea Estates to sample their 2012 Chardonnay, Pinot Gris 2012 and Gewurztraminer. Greenhough Vineyards picked up a gold and trophy for their Apple Valley Riesling and Brightwater Vineyards, Kina Cliffs, Blackenbrook Estate where you can taste some gold medal pinot gris’, Blackenbrook turned theirs into a trophy too.
When you read this list of recent top awards it is pretty obvious the Nelson wine region is making some very good wines and getting plenty of attention by judges and critics alike.
Not all wineries enter competitions but they make some outstanding wines, one of these is Neudorf Vineyards and we all know they make world class wines and they let you take your picnic basket of goodies to enjoy in their beautiful outdoor lawn at the cellar door with a glass or two of their fine wines.
The weather is looking good for the long weekend so get out there and enjoy the delights the Nelson region has to offer, but drive carefully and always have a sober driver if you are visiting wineries.