During my time in Queenstown, I went on a wine tour with New Zealand Wine Tours. They were recommended to us by the concierge at The Rees Hotel where we were staying. I had told them I wanted to do a food and wine tour and they suggested the Degustation Tour.
I really enjoyed this tour because it was a smaller group. We traveled around in this van with 7 of us. We had the owner of the company, Jake, take us around for a half day of wine adventures. We were picked up at our hotel at about 11:30am and were returned around 5pm. I really appreciated that the van had water, fruit and endless chocolate on board. It also had WiFi but all of us were chatting so much with Jake about the area, its history, good wines and restaurants to go to, that we never had it turned on to use.
Our first stop was a place called Chard Farms. Its one of the oldest wineries in the region at 30 years old. The wine industry is fairly young in the South Island of New Zealand. The road that led into Chard Farms went around the side of the mountain and it was the original road into Queenstown. Now the road to the right is the main way in and out of Queenstown. In this river pictured above some of the Lord of the Rings movie was filmed!
Grapes upon grapes at Chard Farms!
We started in the barrel room at Chard Farms, as pictured above. Our tour guide gave us a quick and informative lesson on food and wine pairings. We tried lots of little bites of cheeses, meats and other things while taking note of their influence on wine. It was helpful and tasty!
We purchased a bottle of wine at Chard to enjoy later during our time in Queenstown.
On the way to lunch, our tour guide asked all of us what our tastes in wine were so he could decide what 2 other wineries to take us to. I really liked that he took our wine tastes into consideration. I was happy that I mentioned a special type of white wine I like to drink called Chenin Blanc. The winery we went to after lunch made that variety. We ate at Wild Earth restaurant in the Kawarau Gorge area. This gorge and the surrounding area has a large gold mining history. Some of the wire cable cars used to cross the gorge are still here.
We enjoyed a 5 course food and wine pairing. Everything was delicious and exciting. We started with venison rib, which is a very popular meat in New Zealand. There are lots of deer farms around. Next was goat on couscous. Then wild boar terrine followed by scallops. We finished with smoked salmon. Every wine paired beautifully with its course.
Our entire meal was cooked in wine barrels!!
Next, we were off to Mount Difficulty winery. This is where I had my special Chenin Blanc. They made a lovely version of it. The views here were spectacular. I loved all the autumn colours. They have a beautiful restaurant here that I would love to dine at next time.
Lastly, we finished at Peregrine Winery. I loved the exterior of the winery. This slanted roof was built to mimic a Peregrine falcon’s wing. The vineyard grounds, many years ago, was used for sheep farming and shearing. There were still some old, historic stone structures present on site.
We enjoyed some beautiful wines here including a popular rosé.
I am so glad we did this wine tour. The size of the group was small and it felt so customized. Everything we ate and drank was incredible. On top of that our tour guide, Jake, had loads of information to share about the history of the area from wildlife to wine. He was extremely informative, personable and pleasant. This wine tour was completely worth the cost at about $260NZD per person. The New Zealand dollar is very similar to the Canadian dollar. There are other tours offered with this company with more of a focus on red wine as Pinot is widely grown in this region. I highly recommend this company and tour when in the Queenstown area. We had such a great time.