Wine Tour in Queenstown: Know Before You Go
October 5, 2018
Going on a wine tour in Queenstown is a popular activity for both tourists and locals alike. World-class Pinot Noir and incredible scenery make touring the wineries in Central Otago a special experience. This blog includes information on what to expect when going on a wine tour in Queenstown!
Wine Tour in Queenstown
As one of the newest, but best, wine regions in the world Central Otago is now a place where wine tours are a popular thing for tourists to do. Since beating out the French for the number one ranked Pinot Noir in 2001, Central Otago has grown as an internationally recognised wine region and more and more wineries started popping up.
Today, a wine tour from Queenstown will take you through the popular Gibbston Valley showcasing fields of grape vines in the most unusual setting. Vineyards sit next to deep gorges, cliffs, all complete with snow-covered mountains as the backdrop. While it seems unusual for wineries to exist at such high altitudes and cold climates, the conditions are actually perfect for Pinot Noir. And besides good wine, a wine tour from Queenstown promises views unlike anywhere else in the world!
Dan and I had to check out what all the hype was about for ourselves so the other day we joined a wine tour in Queenstown! It’s safe to say we had a blast (but that was no surprise as we just love going on wine tours!) However, there were a few things unique to a wine tour in Queenstown, things that you should know before you go!
This blog is all about our recent experience on a wine tour n Queenstown including important information for booking, tips, things to know before you go, as well as our recommended tour provider!
What Our Day Looked Like
Our day started with being picked up right in Queenstown town centre. Our guide and driver, Erik, greeted us with a smile and before we knew it we were off on our way to Gibbston Valley to try some wine!
Along the drive, Erik stopped at the Queenstown Hill viewpoint and pointed out some other areas of interest. I knew I had signed up for a Queenstown wine your, but I didn’t know I was also getting a tour of the area – and it was great!
Dan and I have been in Queenstown for 6 months already and most of what Erik told us was new info for us! We learned about the Shotover River and it’s important during the gold rush in the 1860’s, how the Remarkables mountain range got their name, and about how they tried to dam the Kawarau River where it meets Lake Wakatipu. This was to try and dry it out to get more gold but, it was rather unsuccessful and an engineering disaster!
I can’t tell you everything we learned, for that info, you’ll have to join a wine your in Queenstown for yourself, but what I can tell you is that Erik was sure knowledgeable and passionate about Queenstown and that energy immediately transferred to our group!
After about 30 minutes or so we arrived at our first winery. Following a short tour of the grounds and cellar door, we were sipping wine and having laughs! Throughout the day we went to four different wineries and tried about 5 wines at each winery. We tried a wide variety of wines including an orange wine, a bubbly, a rose and a wide variety of whites and reds, but at each winery, Pinot Noir was always a constant (which was more than alright with me as I love Pinot Noir!)
At the second winery, we had lunch at their bistro. This was a great opportunity to get to know all of the other people on the tour as well as Erik. After a few laughs, we were off again into another winery.
By the end of the tour we were a bit tipsy and happy after a good day. I loved that it was a tour about more than just wine, it felt like a great general tour of the area as well which I appreciated.
On our wine tour in Queenstown, we went to four different wineries, each special in their own way. The four we went to were:
Gibbston Valley – I was very excited when we pulled up at Gibbston Valley winery as I have always wanted to visit. They are not only the original winery in Central Otago, but they also have a wine cave! In the wine cave, all of the wine is stored so that it is kept at a consistent temperature We actually did our wine tasting in the wine cave which was pretty cool! They also have free cheese samples at the Gibbston Valley Cheesery as well!
Kinross – Kinross is a unique place because they actually offer several different wines from the region there. The grapes grown nearby are used by several different wine producers which means that you get to taste many different brands! At Kinross, I tried an orange wine for the first time and loved it! Kinross is also where we ate lunch – it was delicious!
Mt Rosa – this small winery produces some incredible wines. Their 2014 Pinot Noir was my personal favourite! The views from the cellar door are incredible, and if you are lucky, the vineyard dog will come and greet you as you sample the wines.
Akarua Wines – They have a beautiful garden that makes for an ideal to sample wine (especially in the spring when the flowers were all blooming!) The atmosphere here made me just want to relax and stay for the rest of the day enjoying the sunshine! We tried a few different wines here and they were all very tasty. This is a place I would definitely return to for a drink and some food.
Our Recommended Tour Provider
Our tour company of choice was by Altitude and we would highly recommend them to anyone. The tour was fun and informative, but also well organised and professional. We went on their “Wine Sampler” tour but they do offer a twilight wine and craft beer tour as well as tours to Glenorchy and private tours in and around Queenstown.
We loved it so much that we are doing another wine tour in Queenstown with Altitude when my mom comes to visit us in a couple of months!
General info about our wine tour in Queenstown
- Our tour started at 10 am and we returned just after 3 pm.
- The mode of transport was a brand-new Mercedes minibus complete with free WiFi
- Lunch was available at Kinross for an additional cost and you had your own choice from their menu
- The Wine Sampler tour visits four different wineries and includes hotel pickup and drop off
- The tour costs $189 NZD per person
Tips for Having a Great Day
- Stay hydrated! While trying so many wines it is important to drink water. Free water is available on the bus at each winery so take advantage of it!
- Wear sunscreen and a hat on sunny summer days. That New Zealand sun can be harsh!
- Bring your camera! There are lots of incredible views that you will want to remember forever.
- Come with a smile and prepared for a good time! Wine tours are always a blast, and a wine tour in Queenstown is no different! It is a great way to enjoy wine as well as some of the spectacular views of Central Otago!