Guest post by Unna Burch of The Forest Cantina
DATES TRAVELLED | October 2020
A quick 20-minute flight had us from Wellington to Blenheim in no time - and I joked when I got there, that the flight was so quick that I didn't even get halfway through the Kia Ora magazine. It's the perfect escape over the Cook Straight to somewhere exciting for a weekend away. Most people come to Marlborough for the wine, which has made this destination world-famous. The sunny and warm weather here mixed with cooler evenings and sea breezes creates this harmonious balance where grapes thrive. 70% of New Zealand wine is made in this region, so if you are a lover of wine, it's a buck-list worthy destination to explore for sure. We were lucky enough to come to Blenheim and be hosted by Jules Taylor wines and stay at their headquarters, which is nestled in amongst one of their Sauvignon Blanc vineyards. Sauvignon Blanc is one of the wines Jules is most renowned for - so it made it extra special to be staying where the magic begins. This gorgeous home is split into one part offices and the other a retreat for guests. We had the whole property to ourselves over the weekend away which was generous in so many ways. The grounds were lovingly kept with manicured hedges, lush entertaining areas and abundant vegetable plots. The fridge was stocked with all the food we could need for a weekend away and we were treated to an indulgent amount of bottles of Jule's wine in there too. We felt totally spoilt!
While down there, we spent time getting to know Jules and her husband George, and also Katy who is a part of the Jules Taylor team. We shared meals together (the best way to connect with people I reckon!), and while we sipped on their wines, we learnt more about them, their passion for what they do and also the area itself. It felt like we were reconnecting with old friends - they were all so warm and down to earth. The way that they openly welcomed us and made us feel comfortably at ease - it showed a real sense of manakitanga, and we truly appreciated it. During one of our dinner table conversations, we swapped travel stories and had said that it's often the people you meet and connect with that make a trip so memorable. This weekend away was no exception.
Being such a quick trip (less than 48 hours!) we were limited on time, however, we quickly found some highlights and places I highly recommend you visit next time you are in Blenheim. Wine, good food, great company and some stunning scenery...it was the perfect weekend getaway!
My top must do's
Wine | A no brainer! With over 30 cellar doors and a range of different ways to explore them, choose some of your favourites and maybe add in a few lucky dips too to perhaps discover new loves.
Where to Eat | We absolutely loved our dinner at Scotch with Jules and George and I would HIGHLY recommend it (in fact, I wish we had more than one meal here). It is a wine bar with tapa style food, and each dish was intuitive but most importantly delicious! Another place I love here in Blenheim is Arbour. We didn't get to visit them on this trip as they were fully booked, but I have eaten there before and it was definitely a memorable meal. I recommend you book well in advance for both of these restaurants before you come.
Marlborough Farmers Market | Probably one of the best farmers markets I have been to in some time! It was small, but each of the stalls sold such delicious treats - a food lovers paradise. We ate the famous Royale Beef Sandwich by Feast Merchants who are a regular feature of the Farmers Market and other events around the region beef sandwich which was a horopito rubbed charcoal smoked brisket with onion ham, mustard mayo, cheese, dill pickle in Picton bakery multigrain bread. We also ordered their mint and raspberry ice tea - so good! And we went home with a bag of artisan cheeses, specialty bread, cinnamon rolls and cordials. I was also eyeing up the groper cheek filo's to take home too from another stall who also sold an impressive selection of handmade pies and a good vegan selection too.
Hedgerow Strawberrues | If you are real fruit ice cream lover like me, then Hederows Strawberries should be on your Blenheim list for sure. They not only sells ice cream and frozen yoghurt (frozen yoghurt is always my personal choice, and one of my all time favourite foods!) but they sell fresh strawberries by the punnet as well.
Walk the Wither Hills | Jules, Aaron and I walked up the Wither Hills on Saturday and it was one of my highlights of the trip. Not only did we get to exercise but we got to see the landscape and the beautiful surroundings. The loop track we did was 5.5km and took us about an hour, a fun and free activity to add to your itinerary for sure!
Visit Whites Bay | A beautiful little bay not too far a drive from town - it would be stunning there in the peak of summer. Although it was cold when we went, it was still worth the drive out, and the weather also meant that we almost had the beach to ourselves.