Wine Tour Advisor Blog

New Zealand Wine: Hawke’s Bay

New Zealand Wine: Hawke’s Bay

  • Posted: Mar 30, 2015
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Heading south from Auckland we made our way into Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand’s second largest wine region. Situated on the east coast around a bay of the same name, the region contains a diverse range of landscapes that shape its vineyards. Its Mediterranean climate lends itself both to a range of outdoor activities as well as producing world class wines and great produce. For the wine traveler, this means you can expect great wine, excellent food and sunny weather to take it all in. Join us on our trip into a select set of the regions 80+ wineries.

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New Zealand Wine: Northland & Auckland

New Zealand Wine: Northland & Auckland

  • Posted: Mar 06, 2015
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As promised Wine Tour Advisor is going on location in New Zealand. We are starting in the North Island and driving our “Red Wine Mobile” all the way to Queenstown in the South Island.  Each place will be visited as a normal traveler seeking out wine and great experiences along the way.  We learned that some of the first grapes in New Zealand were planted in the Northland & Auckland region so we decided see what it offers to the wine traveler.

Northland

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Beautiful beaches and great coastal scenery. Many travelers come for the Bay of Islands which is popular for it’s beaches as well as for sailing and fishing. The area tends to have higher average temperatures than any other region in New Zealand which sets them apart in wine making as well as recreation. You are never more than 50 kilometers from the sea so for the traveler this means you are always close to some of New Zealand’s best beaches.

We stopped by for lunch at Marsden Estate which has a winery and restaurant overlooking a beautiful pond and garden. The food was a good value for the money and their Pinot Gris was great on a hot summer day. It’s worth a stop for a lunch or a tasting and walk around the property.

Marsden Estate

We also visited the very interesting Cottle Hill Winery and spoke with wine maker Michael Webb who seems to have a passion for experimentation. They produce a range of wines including a few in the port style as well as distilled Grappa. The fact that they are a small family run winery means you are not talking to a representative trying to push wines or meet quotas and it really feels like they are looking out for their customer. It’s a great place to stop and is easy to find on the main road.

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North of Auckland has two wine trails that we ran across. The Northland wine trail and the Matakana wine trail. Both have maps you can pick up at many of the wineries in the region and are a great resource for finding your way around. On the Matakana trail Ransom Wines and Herons Flight were highly recommended by locals and it’s a bit closer to Auckland so if you don’t have much time you can easily rent a car and be to a winery within an hours drive.

Auckland

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The countries largest city is also where most wine travelers are likely to start their New Zealand journey. The good news is that you only have to take a 30 minute ferry ride from downtown to experience great wine. Waiheke Island is known as a city escape and many day trips are available. You can cycle around the island to visit vineyards or just take a leisurely walk and visit it’s many shops and restaurants. We didn’t have time to make the day trip, but for wine travelers staying only a short time in the area this is the place to head. We were recommended by locals to try out Villa Maria which is known as the most awarded New Zealand winery.

From what we found, wines from the Northland/Auckland area are diverse as they don’t have to adhere to specific regional styles. The warmer weather allows them to grow grapes varietals that others in the south might struggle with. The the area has great outdoor activities as well as cultural sights to visit. For the wine traveler it’s not hard to get to and you will find plenty of small wineries that offer a more personal approach. So before you head down to the big well known wine regions, why not start in the Auckland & Northland regions first.

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Tips for New Zealand Winery Visits

  • Many wineries have Cellar Door times in which they conduct tastings and are open to the general public. Many close around 4-5pm during the summer months, so if you are traveling outside of the summer it’s good to check in advance as things tend to close earlier or shutdown completely to visitors during the winter months.
  • Many wineries charge ~$5 NZD for tastings, with the fee being waived if you buy a bottle or eat at their restaurant if they have one.
  • Be sure to talk to the other winery visitors! We learned of some great wineries to visit and some great stopping off points that were recommended by locals that we would have otherwise missed.

We are soon heading to the South Island and will be visiting the famous Marlborough region.Also stay tuned for our coverage of the Hawke’s Bay area.  If you have any specific places you want us to check out, please let us know in the comments!

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The long road to IWINETC

The long road to IWINETC

  • Posted: Feb 23, 2015
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Wine Tour Advisor is about to hit the road to the International Wine Tour Conference in the Champagne region of France. The conference doesn’t start until April but we decided to take the long road and see some amazing wine regions on the way. The adventure starts with two huge blank spots on our map, New Zealand and Australia with a short stopover in Fiji. We will be approaching these regions as beginners and bring you a first hand look at our experiences on the road. Over the next month we will be sending updates via our blog as well as our social media accounts. We touch down on the 27th in Auckland with an open schedule to take in whatever great wine comes our way!

If any wine lovers have questions you want answered about these regions or have any helpful tips please let us know in the comments! Also if you following us, be sure to join the adventure on instagram, facebook or twitter!

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Do It Yourself Wine Travel

Do It Yourself Wine Travel

  • Posted: Jan 13, 2015
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Do you have a “Do It Yourself” approach (or budget) to travel but still want unique wine experiences? DIY wine travel can be no less luxurious than a guided tour and still offer great local adventures. It might take a bit more effort up front, but it can be very rewarding. We’ve put together some great tips and resources to help you get started planning your own unique wine tour.

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Luxury Wine Travel Part One: American Adventure

Luxury Wine Travel Part One: American Adventure

  • Posted: Dec 03, 2014
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Exotic locations, exquisite food, 5 star hotels, and aged wine from top vineyards. No matter how you define luxury, wine travel is hands down the best way to experience it. With that in mind, we’ve prepared a themed trip idea to help get you started on your way to luxury wine travel.

For this trip, we will be referring to the offerings of one of our tour operators, Beau Wine Tours. While they had no idea this article was being written, luxury wine travel is their specialty and they service some of the premiere wine regions of the USA. Since this is “have your people call our people” sort of travel, it’s best to go with the pro’s on this adventure.

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5 Exciting & Uncharted Wine Destinations

5 Exciting & Uncharted Wine Destinations

When you think of wine destinations, cliché photos of French Châteaus and Tuscan villas probably instantly fill your head. But outside the regions that fill most of the wine store shelves lie some amazing emerging and ancient wine destinations that might not be on your map just yet. For some of these you might need to dust off your passport and pick up a local dictionary to be able to taste their wines, though for others you might be seeing them pop up on your local stores shelves soon. Lets dive into our 5 uncharted wine destinations.

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How much duty free wine can I bring home?

How much duty free wine can I bring home?

  • Posted: Oct 09, 2014
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Now that you are getting ready to pack your bags to head to an amazing wine destination, remember to leave room in your suitcase to bring back some great local wines. Though before buying up cases of wine it’s important to know how much wine you can bring back across the border. Each country you pass through on your journey has different limits as to how many bottles you can bring in. We’ve put together a guide to help you plan ahead so you don’t go over your duty free allowance.
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Wine Tourism in Israel is Growing

Wine Tourism in Israel is Growing

Israel has a lot to offer to lure travelers. Located within the area known as one of the cradles of civilization with a distinctly Mediterranean climate it fascinates with ancient archaeological and historic sites, wide beaches and unbelievable landscapes. But not everyone realizes that Israel is becoming one of the most prominent regions for wine lovers .

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Wine harvest seasons around the world

Wine harvest seasons around the world

  • Posted: Sep 19, 2014
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The grape harvest season is the most exciting and rewarding time to plan a wine tour. Wineries come to life as the harvest that they have prepared for all year is finally here. Picking, sorting, crushing and tasting the fresh grapes means that there is never a dull moment in the wine makers day. While it’s a busy time for everyone involved, it’s not all work as many wineries host grape picking events, grape stomping parties, and in some cases festivals lasting a week or more celebrating the harvest season.

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What to do during your first wine tasting

What to do during your first wine tasting

  • Posted: Sep 08, 2014
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If you are new to the world of wine travel, going to your first wine tasting might be intimidating. Don’t’ worry, here are a few tips that can help give you an intro to wine tasting.

Where do I start?

If you have never been to a wine tasting then a good place to start is through an organized tour. They take care of the transportation, planning winery visits and have a lot of experience in the wine regions that they service. They are also often great for finding small wineries that may not be otherwise open to the public.

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