Wine tasting in Queenstown should be on the top of your bucket list, as the region is home to some of the best pinot noir grapes in the world, which makes it a pinot noir lover’s paradise. It is a grape variety that’s hard to produce all around the world and yet we are fortunate it has found a home in the Gibbston Valley area, which is the heart of the Central Otago wine industry and is just 20 minutes drives from downtown Queenstown. Autumn is spectacular in Queenstown and is a fantastic time to try wine tasting.
Many recommend you indulge yourselves in the Queenstown’s wineries in the crispness of autumn where the landscape turns warm and golden. Each season has different shades of colours, hues and moods but if you are a Pinot Noir lover, then autumn is the best time to visit.
During the last 20 years or so the number of pinot noir producers in Central Otago has increased to around 130 vineyards, with more than 30 tasting rooms open to the public. There are approximately 2000 hectares of grapes planted in the regions which is just over 5% of NZ’s total winegrowing area. Pinot Noir has always been king and accounts for approximately 75% of plantings, the others include pinot gris, riesling and chardonnay which are all star-studded performers.
Gibbston Valley, also known as the Valley of the Vines, not only offers stunning natural beauty & some of the country’s oldest vineyards, it’s also a wonderful place for a wine tour by bus, bike or on foot. Don’t forget there’s also delicious food to savour at several restaurants and pubs along the way.
Some of the best ways to discover wine tasting in Queenstown include the following:
Guided Wine Tours
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to guided wine tours around Queenstown, with a choice of operators offering everything from popular group trips to private tours customised to specific interests and tastes. Also available are combo tours blending in other must-see sights and activities such as jet boating or a heli flight. Whatever you choose, you’re guaranteed a wealth of local knowledge and plenty of stories to tell at the end of the day.
Hop on Hop off Queenstown
This covers 99% of all wineries in Gibbston Valley. 16 Stops that include Shotover Jet, Canyon Food & Brew Co., Strike Bowl, Arrowtown, Akarua Wines and Kitchen By Artisan, Amisfield Bistro & Cellar Door, Wet Jacket Wines (Only from Nov – April), AJ Hacket Bungy, Cargo Brewery/Waitiri Creek Wines, Brennan Wines, Mt Rosa Wines, Kinross Cellar Door & Bistro, Gibbston Tavern & Rockburn wines, Gibbston Valley Winery and Altitude Brewing.
Arrow River Bridges Trail (cycling)
Starting in Arrowtown, the Arrow River Bridges Trail is a brilliant way to work a longer bike ride into your wine tour. The 14km trail takes 2–3 hours, so setting off early morning will see you arrive in Gibbston Valley perfectly timed – and hungry – for lunch. Along the way you’ll cross five distinct bridges spanning the pretty Arrow River, with the option of calling into A J Hackett’s Kawarau Bridge Bungy at the entrance to the Gibbston Valley. What better way to pop the cork on your Gibbston wine tour than by taking the big leap!
Pick up a wine map, designate your driver, and create your own wine tour of Gibbston and beyond. Highlights between Queenstown and Gibbston include historic Arrowtown, Amisfield Bistro & Cellar Door near pretty Lake Hayes, and Chard Farm winery perched high on the river terraces at the entrance to the Valley.
Christopher Keys the Winemaker at Gibbston Valley Winery recommends visiting Queenstown’s wineries during autumn as well, “You get the feeling in Queenstown, it’s not trying to impress you. There’s a beauty, a staggering magnificence, but at times it’s the most refined form of beauty.”
After your day of wine tasting you may want to plan a restful day in Awesome Arrowtown