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September Queenstown Wine Research Trip

13 September 2017

I'm just back from another reconnaissance trip to Queenstown before the high wine tour season kicks off with the onset of cruise ship arrivals. I'm always keeping an ear to the ground for the possibility of expansion back to the place I spent so much time in my youth. 

It's winter so I expected it to be freezing with the ski season in full swing, but quite by chance we had two of the most balmy and beautiful days with nothing but sunshine. As soon as I returned to Auckland the weather caved in and it snowed to sea level, the road to Milford Sound blocked by an avalanche so our timing was perfect. Good for the Ski season through, they needed the snow.

I dropped into" The Winery" Queenstown wine center for a look at all the local labels. It's an incredible selection of the best local, regional (& international wines) but wildly overpriced and geared up for tourists who are short on time and unknowing of the hefty price inflation. You can taste many of them by purchasing a prepaid card and using the Enotique Argon Wine dispensers.

To be fair that's Queenstown in general, everything there has to be freighted inland so it all costs more. In Auckland I can buy a litre of diesel for around $1.10, there I saw it was around $1.40!! Most other pricing is probably on a paar with Auckland. Some bars do have "Happy Hours" so it's worth a hunt around. There are plenty of small less expensive cafes and eateries and all food types are catered for. The queue outside 'Fergburger" was it's usual indication of obsession for the iconic gourmet Queenstown burger that's listed from Lonely planet to TripAdvisor and a few recommendation Guides in between.

We stayed at the Hilton Kawarau Village which was outstanding, and I highly recommend this hotel. The room, the view, the service and staff all outstanding. It's located close to the airport in Kelvin Heights so quite some distance from the town center, but the water taxi makes regular trips and is an exciting way to go to and from the hotel for $10pp each way.

I dropped into Peregrine Wines, Akarua Wines just outside Arrowtown and Chard Farm in the Kawarau Gorge. I purchased a superb Akarua Methode Traditionelle NV $37 and a citrusy Chard Farm Riesling $25. 

We took dinner at the Bunker in Cow lane in the centre of Queenstown. Considered one of the best restaurants in town it's expensive but worth every cent, they have open real wood fire places in the restaurant down and upstairs as well as their rich and warm cocktail bar. It's highly atmospheric, cozy and romantic -  Booking is essential. 

You can check out the photos of all of this on the NZWINEPRO Facbook page.

I drove over to Arrowtown for a browse of the historic buildings and boutiques and then Wanaka which like Queenstown has grown significantly over the last 30 years. It still however has a sense of quiet and tranquility beside the hustle bustle and excitement of Queenstown and there are a number of new cafes, bars and eateries on the lake side of the township. 

The views of the lakes, mountains and general scenery everywhere is nothing short of spectacular.

A stop into the Cardrona Hotel on the way back to Queenstown for a winter ale was essential. It's one of the oldest working bars and restaurants in New Zealand. To dine in the pub restaurant you must book in weeks in advance. The last night we dined at "The Wakatipu Grill" at the Hilton and I had the best Scotch Fillet steak of the year.

If you're planning a trip to Queenstown and need some extra information about things to do or see, please don't hesitate to let me know - John McFarlane

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Luxury Travel Guide Winner 2016


September Queenstown Wine Research Trip

I'm just back from another reconnaissance trip to Queenstown before the high wine tour season kicks off with the onset of cruise ship arrivals. I'm always keeping an ear to


John's Wine of the Week : Runner Duck Joy Methode Traditionelle NV

This is a "fermented in the bottle" Sparkling Cremant made of Cabernet France. After being pressed off skin, the base cuvees of three different vintages have been fermented, clarified and


 October 2017 LAST MINUTE Discounts! 

Solo Travellers may book any of these tours - contact or telephone 021 464 469
These tours cannot be booked at this price online. Phone the office

Wednesday 11th October - Vineyards Honey & Black sand beach Tour  - 11.30am  - 5.00pm $175pp

Friday 20th October -  Muriwai Scenic Afternoon Wine Tour  - 2.00pm  - 5.30pm $110pp