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There were a couple of reasons why I had opted to stay in Nelson for a couple of days on my journey through New Zealand. First, I had been traveling on long bus journeys the previous two days, the first from Queenstown to Franz Josef, and the second from Franz Josef to Nelson, so I needed a break. Second, Nelson is a key area in New Zealand’s drinks industry, as the land is suited for the growing of both grapes & hops.
Given that I had only one day in Nelson & no car, plus even if I did have a car, I couldn’t drink & drive, I opted to do a half-day beer and wine tour of the Nelson area.
The name of the tour was “Wine, Brews, and Views” and it was run by Bay Tours Nelson (TripAdvisor). The tour currently costs $98 NZD per person, and lasts 5 hours. Considering this includes tastings at two wineries, two breweries, and a knowledgable tour guide/designated driver for the afternoon, this is a solid value for the experience. Since I hadn’t booked ahead of time, I was lucky to book the last spot on that afternoon’s tour.
Our group was comprised of myself, a couple from the Isle of Wight, and a fun family who were visiting from Finland. They were great to talk with all day. We discussed everything from politics to hockey, with plenty of time to chat about beer and wine as well, of course. Our tour guide, Owen, was one of the owners of the company, and knew all about the region & the wine & beer industries. He even takes photos throughout the day, which are then posted on the Bay Tours Nelson website so you can download them later. We also learned facts about New Zealand, such as that the best sheep shearers can shear over 400 sheep in a day, which burns as many calories as running two marathons. Me personally, I’d rather drink and eat some lamb.
Prior to heading to the first winery, we stopped at an overlook with a great view across the blue water of Tasman Bay toward Abel Tasman National Park. Next time I visit New Zealand, I’ll have to go check that out, since I didn’t have time on this trip.
The Nelson area is home to some of the most successful wineries in New Zealand. Also, the wineries in the region are all family owned, which is nice to see. I like being able to support a family-run business rather than some multinational conglomerate. The wines produced around Nelson are mostly white wines, as it’s not the right climate for heavy reds. Sauvignon blanc accounts for 90% of production. Other wines produced include pinot noir, riesling, and chardonnay. There are lots of apples grown around Nelson as well, so ciders are also made in the region.
The first winery we stopped at was Milcrest Estate, a boutique winery. At about 10 acres, it’s much smaller than the wineries I’m used to visiting in California, which is cool. I like a more intimate winery as opposed to something that feels corporate.
We all sat around a picnic table and had a nice wine tasting, complete with a great fruit & cheese plate. We had a sauvignon blanc, of course, plus a 2014 pinot gris, a pinot noir aged in oak barrels, a montepulciano, and a riesling.
Our second winery of the day was Seifried Estate, which is the largest winery in the Nelson area, but it’s still a family-sized operation. Here we took a long break, doing a full tasting, plus having a nice lunch out on their lawn. I had a fantastic local cheese platter with a glass (or two) of their Zweigelt Sylvia. Seriously, look at this thing, it’s beautiful.
After lunch, we were off to the beer portion of our day. Owen was nice enough to take a brief detour to some hop fields, so I could see some future beer. Most of the hops grown in the area are Nelson Sauvin & Motueka. 95% of New Zealand’s hops are exported, so perhaps I will see these hops again someday.
Our first beer stop was at Moutere Inn, the oldest pub in New Zealand.
With it being yet another gorgeous day on the South Island, we sat out in the sun on the patio & had a variety of local beers and ciders.
Our last stop of the day was at one of the oldest craft breweries in Nelson, Bays Brewery. Owner Peter McGrath showed us his brewing facility & took us through his full range of beers. My favorites were the Exclamator and the Urboc, which paired well with some of the cheese they also had for sale.
After our nice wine & beer tour around the area, it was time to head back to the center of Nelson. Although Owen was taking everyone else back to their hotels, he was nice enough to drop me off at a local craft beer bar, since I still had more beer left to drink in Nelson.
Read below for all of my posts about my trip around the Pacific Rim!
A trip around the Pacific Rim – Introduction
OneWorld Business Lounge Los Angeles LAX review
Cathay Pacific Business Class Boeing 777-300ER Los Angeles LAX to Hong Kong HKG review
Cathay Pacific Business Class Airbus A330 Hong Kong HKG to Kuala Lumpur KUL review
Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral review
A layover in Kuala Lumpur – Street markets & Petronas Towers
Cathay Pacific Lounge Kuala Lumpur KUL satellite review
Plaza Premium Lounge Kuala Lumpur KUL review
Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge Kuala Lumpur KUL satellite review
Malaysia Airlines Business Class Airbus A330-300 Kuala Lumpur KUL to Auckland AKL review
Air New Zealand Economy Class Airbus A320 Auckland AKL to Queenstown ZQN review
Queenstown Motel Apartments – Queenstown, New Zealand review
Queenstown, New Zealand – A Lord of the Rings tour
Day trip from Queenstown, New Zealand – Milford Sound
Queenstown, New Zealand – Skyline Queenstown
Craft beer in Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown to Franz Josef, New Zealand by bus
Hiking to Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand
Franz Josef to Nelson, New Zealand by bus
Fellworth House – Nelson, New Zealand review
A beer & wine tour through Nelson, New Zealand
The best craft beer in Nelson, New Zealand
Nelson to Wellington, New Zealand by bus and ferry via Picton
A nerdy day at Weta Workshop in Wellington, New Zealand
Exploring the museums & parks of Wellington, New Zealand
The best craft beer in Wellington, New Zealand
Wellington to Auckland, New Zealand by bus
New Year’s Eve in Auckland, New Zealand
A rainy New Year’s Day at the Auckland War Memorial Museum
A rainy day at the Auckland Art Gallery & New Zealand Maritime Museum
The best craft beer in Auckland, New Zealand
Emperor Lounge Auckland AKL review
Malaysia Airlines Business Class Airbus A330-300 Auckland AKL to Kuala Lumpur KUL review
Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur review
A layover in Kuala Lumpur – Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia & Jalan Alor
Malaysia Airlines Golden Regional Lounge Kuala Lumpur KUL review
Malaysia Airlines Business Class Boeing 737-800 Kuala Lumpur KUL to Hong Kong HKG review
A visit to Tim Ho Wan in Hong Kong for dim sum
A rainy day in Hong Kong – Science Museum & Kau Kee noodles
Hong Kong – Victoria Peak & more great food
More dim sum in Hong Kong – Din Tai Fung & Dim Sum Square
A day trip to Macau from Hong Kong
Grand City Hotel Hong Kong review
The best craft beer in Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific The Cabin Business Class Lounge Hong Kong review
Cathay Pacific The Bridge Business Class Lounge Hong Kong review
Cathay Pacific Business Class Airbus A330-300 Hong Kong HKG to Osaka KIX via Taipei review
A layover in Osaka – Ramen, sushi, & exploring the city
JAL Sakura Lounge Osaka KIX review
JAL Business Class Boeing 787 Osaka KIX to Los Angeles LAX review