It’s your one day in Marlborough to sample the wines, the ambience, meet the people, enjoy the sunshine and learn more about Marlborough’s fantastic wines.  You want it to be perfect.  We want it to be perfect.  You’re bound to have some questions about our Marlborough wine tour.  We have answered the common questions below, but if you have one we haven’t anticipated, please contact us.

Its easy to book your Marlborough wine tour with Na Clachan.  You can use our on-line form, email us directly or book instantly through our on-line booking calendar.  Please remember we are a small team working with small groups so to avoid disappointment, make your booking in advance.

However you book we will get back to you as soon as possible with details of pick up times.  Please remember to tell us where you will be staying so we can schedule our pick ups.  If you’re not sure of your accommodation that’s fine, just let us know close to the tour date.  Or of course you can stay in one of our self-contained cottages.

A full day wine tour starts with a 10am pick up from your accommodation.  Lunch is at a vineyard restaurant (at your own cost) or if you prefer you can bring a picnic.  A half day wine tour starts at 1pm.  Both tours finish sometime after 5pm with a drop off at your accommodation.  A popular option for timing is the half day wine tour with lunch –  a 12 noon start with a vineyard lunch as the first stop.  Other timings can be arranged to fit with your travel plans.  Contact us to discuss options.

That depends very much on the group.  The time at each winery varies depending on the size of the group and how much chatting goes on.  The pace is set by the group, not by any pre-planned schedule.  However, as a general rule, an afternoon wine tour might cover five wineries, a full day wine tour perhaps eight.

There is no set itinerary for our wine tour, so the wineries we visit depends on any requests from the group, wine preferences etc.  The plan is not to have a pre-determined plan but to listen to what people want from their tour.  There are over forty cellar doors to choose from and you can request styles of wines, NZ owned wineries, or a favourite producer.  Have a look at the Marlborough wine map if you want to do a bit of pre-tour planning.

Absolutely!  Talk to Helen at the start of the tour and make sure you mention places that you want included.  They may not all be possible, some cellar doors have limited opening hours, some wineries do not have tasting rooms and there may be more requests than time available.  But we will do our best to accommodate your requests.

No.  It helps if you enjoy wine, but you do not need any particular expertise.   There is no fancy etiquette or mystique about tasting wine that you need to worry about.  Helen will give you some tips about tasting wine if this is new to you or you can do a bit of research for yourself e.g. Taste wine like a Pro

There isn’t a typical tour in terms of itinerary.  The plan is to have a chat to guests at the start of the tour and to ensure that everyone has a great day.  The itinerary may change as Helen tunes in the to wine preferences of the group or as requests arise.

If you choose a tour option that includes a lunch stop (the full day or the midday start) you pay the cost of your own lunch.  There are a range of lunch options available that we will discuss at the start of the day.  If you prefer, bring a picnic and we will stop at a suitable spot.  The cost of your tour includes any tasting fees at the cellar doors.

Of course.  A private wine tour is charged by the hour with a minimum of four hours.  Maximum group size is 11 persons for the minivan or 3 if you prefer to ride in our Mercedes saloon.  You decide the start and finish time and the wineries you want to visit.  Naturally, Helen or Chris are happy to provide suggestions and advice based on the wine preference or other wishes of your group.   The cost  is $80 per hour for up to 11 people but this does not include tasting fees at the wineries (allow maybe $10 per person for tasting fees).

If there are 6 or more in your group a private tour can be cost effective. If you want to guarantee the itinerary of the tour, without any compromise with other group members, a private tour is a good choice. Ring us or email to discuss the options.

No. Helen will pick up from your local accommodation. Guests staying at Na Clachan Cottages receive a discount on a wine tour but everyone is welcome.

I am often asked whether winemakers add juices of other fruits or artificial chemicals to give the wine its characteristic flavours.  The answer is a most definite NO.  The flavours – for example, gooseberries, cherries, rose water – all come from natural chemicals in the grapes or from the wine making processes (the yeasts or barrels).  For example apricot fruit flavour is caused by the chemical 1,4-decanolide amyl propanoate and is associated with chenin blanc, some rieslings and chardonnays.  Once you delve into the chemistry it all becomes rather complicated.  The good news is that you do not need to know any of this in order to enjoy wine and recognise the characteristic flavours.  If you want to find out more about visit Tom Cannavan‘s webpages

Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough is crisp, very fruity and zesty with “aromatic pungency”.  It is easily distinguishable form Sauvignon Blanc grown in other regions.  For an independent assessment of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc check out what Wikipedia has to say.  In a nutshell Marlborough sauvignon blanc is made in the vineyard and the Marlborough climate soils and high UV levels give the wine its fruity, zesty characteristics.  We think it is so good we even wrote a song – “A Celebration of Marlborough sauvignon blanc” extolling its virtues.

Marlborough has become world renowned for its Sauvignon Blanc and about 70% of Marlborough’s wine production is Sauvignon Blanc.  However a number of other varieties are grown here, particularly the aromatic whites – Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris.  Chardonnay also grows well here.  Pinot Noir is the only red grape that does consistently well in the Marlborough climate but some wineries are growing Merlot, Malbec, Montepulciano.  A number of wineries produce sparkling wines (both methode traditionelle and carbonated) and many produce dessert wines.  You can expect to have the opportunity to sample most, if not all, of these varieties on a tour.  So there has to be a Marlborough wine for everyone.

The climate is ideal for many aromatic white vines and for pinot noir.  We have a long ripening season with good daytime temperatures in the summer of perhaps 26 – 30 C followed by cool nights.   If you want to know a bit more about the climate and its suitability check out my recent blog.

Along with that we have a range of soil types from stony free drained alluvials to clay.  After sauvignon blanc, pinot noir is the second most common grape in the area.  Marlborough is now producing some fantastic pinot noir and beginning to establish a reputation for this wine to go alongside its worldwide reputation for sauvignon blanc.  However, expect to sample some great pinot gris, gewurtztraminer  and chardonnay as well.  Marlborough has a wine to suit every palate.

That very much depends on where home is.  Marlborough wine is exported worldwide and you can check on the website of individual wineries to see where they export and for details of distributors.  You can arrange to ship wine home to many countries.  Ask Helen or Chris for details at the start of your tour.

The Marlborough wine industry is relatively new and the oldest Marlborough vines are only about 35 years old.  In Europe and other long established wine regions vines as old as 100 years are still in production.  So, come back in 30 years and ask me the question again and I will give you an update.

Yum.  Yes.  They taste delicious, with distinctive flavours for each variety.  Gewurtztraminer grapes have a rose water flavour, Riesling are citrusy.  Close your eyes and eat a sauvignon blanc grape from some areas and you could think you were eating a gooseberry.  The grapes are not generally used for table grapes because they have small bunches, small berries and some have quite thick skins.  But they are lovely.  Tour with us in late March and April and you can taste some of the grapes.

Again it depends on the variety but for Sauvignon Blanc, about 1.1kg of grapes per bottle.  Some varieties give you less juice per kilo.   An average grape might weigh 2 grammes, so you need about 550 grapes for a bottle.  See Winelovers for more detail.

There are over 5,000 varieties of grape.  But only a relatively small number are used for making wine, and of these only about ten are grown in Marlborough to any great extent.  For a great deal more information visit the cookeryonline summary.

Na Clachan recommend Bay Tours for your Hawkes Bay tour. Read our review of Bay Tours afternoon tour or check out their website.