Craggy Range Ultimate Wine Tour, Brancott Estate Wines, Cloudy Bay Winery’s Forage Experience, Amisfield Winery’s new food forage experience

Top Immersive Wine Experiences in New Zealand

By —— Bio and Archives--October 30, 2017

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The Brancott Estate Heritage Centre overlooking Brancott Vineyard -- Photo: John Doogan
What do oysters, bicycles, helicopters and foraging for local ingredients have to do with wine? So much! While visitors and locals alike can expect great wine in New Zealand, the new, experiential offerings below – which range from luxury to affordable – provide an exceptional opportunity for wine lovers, of all budgets.

Craggy Range, Hawke’s Bay

The two-day Craggy Range Ultimate Wine Tour is tailored for four people and offers a no-holds-barred approach to luxury travel.

The adventure begins with a helicopter tour over the spectacularly beautiful Craggy Range vineyards with head winemaker Matt Stafford, who guides the small group as they view vines and the region’s natural landmarks from the air, including Tuki Tuki Valley, the Te Awanga coast and Cape Kidnappers (all breathtaking). Then it’s back to the winery for a personalized tasting and blending session to create your own wine to take home.

The experience can be mixed and matched with a bespoke food and wine event, which begins in the garden and culminates in a personalized three-course meal at Craggy Range’s Terroir Restaurant. Food is prepared from a guided food gathering with chef Andrew Saxon. Guests stay in the luxurious four-bedroom lodge and can also fly-fish, walk up Te Mata Peak, and play a few rounds of golf. The Ultimate Wine Tour price is: $4,000 NZD for 4 people (approx. $3,500 Cdn).

Brancott Estate Heritage Centre, Marlborough

Perched above Brancott Estate Wines, Marlborough’s first modern vineyard, Brancott Estate Heritage Centre overlooks the country’s largest wine region and offers spectacular vistas of the North Island. With one of the most outstanding vineyard restaurants in the country, Brancott specializes in fresh regional produce and wine tastings, including wines only available at the cellar door.

There is an exclusive bespoke private dining room, catering up to 18 people, or a wine tasting tailored specifically for guests. There is a vineyard cycling tour ($35 NZD per person – approx. $30 Cdn) or for those who want to increase the splendour of the experience at Brancott Estate, take a helicopter flight over the vineyards, followed by a wine tasting (minimum of four people; $265 NZD per person – approx. $232 Cdn). A premium wine tasting experience features Brancott’s top-flight wines, led by one of the estate’s experts.

Cloudy Bay, Marlborough

If eating freshly harvested oysters, taking a private helicopter tour over the Marlborough Sounds, and foraging for your own food sounds appealing, then the Cloudy Bay Winery’s Forage Experience is perfect for you.

The two-day event for four to 10 people provides a first-hand peek behind the vines (so to speak) into this iconic winery. In between food foraging efforts, there are private vineyard tours, wine tastings and sashimi tastings of local salmon. You will have lunch on the Marlborough Sounds on your way to Tio Point oyster farm where you will harvest shellfish right from the sea – it doesn’t get any fresher than that. It also includes a private barrel tasting and blending session at the globally renowned Cloudy Bay Winery – one of the first in New Zealand to make sauvignon blanc.
The event finishes with The Forage dinner, created from the produce collected. The price is on demand.

Amisfield Winery, Queenstown

Paddock to plate is the philosophy of Amisfield Winery’s new food forage experience and its journey of discovery into Central Otago on New Zealand’s South Island. Amisfield Bistro chef, Vaughan Mabee, recently led an impromptu adventure with a team from the restaurant into Otago’s great outdoors to source flora and fauna for a unique paddock-to-plate dining experience, which was accompanied by the best of Amisfield’s wines, of course.

Next to experience this immersive activity, were local cooking students. The overwhelmingly positive response means that now the wilderness forage has grown into a private, hands-on experience for visitors to the region. Reservations are essential for those who want to indulge in this individualized, exclusive, behind-the-scenes experience. And once the foraging is complete, it ends with a glass or two of the highly acclaimed Central Otago pinot noir – the grape that makes up almost 80 per cent of the region’s vineyards.

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