Wine Bike Tour New Zealand is part of the TPOL Down Under Trip Report.
I can’t ride a bike well. Granted I only ride once every few years and only out of tourism necessity. In 2013, I rode one in Mendoza in pursuit of Malbec (see “It’s Like Riding a Bike.” Those words have haunted me for years.). In 2015, I rode one in Bagan to see the pagodas (see Guns & Butter: Bagan Travel Guide). In 2019, I had two choices: go on a wine tasting tour in a van or get back in the saddle. Since I hate tours more than I hate cycling, I booked the latter.
On the day of the tasting, I woke up to the sound of rain. This could have been my excuse to cancel the bike and take the van. The front desk said it would clear up and my moment of weakness passed. The van picked us up and drove us out to wine country. Along the way I saw cars zipping by at high speeds alongside the vines. I had cheated death by swimming with crocodiles (see Guns & Butter: Darwin Travel Guide). Why was I pushing my luck for vino?
Much like the croc diving, I listened intently to the safety instructions. I felt relief when we were told that there are designated bike paths and that cycling on the highways is not allowed.
Test Your Bike
In front of people, I had to get on my bike and pedal to see if the bike was to my liking. I couldn’t wait for the first drink.
Vineyard #1: Forrest
After relaxing, I made my way to the first vineyard. It was immediately apparent that the bike tour was the way to go. Had I been better at starting and stopping, I would’ve taken more photos along the way.
The first vineyard did not have anything special. It did give me a gentle buzz to commence the journey to the next.
Vineyard #2: Frammingham
I came to Marlborough for the sauvignon blanc, but I was open to trying new varietals. In Yarra, my attempt to fall in love with chardonnay failed (see Vineyard Crawl: My Yarra Valley Wine Tour). I thought I would reaffirm my dislike of Riesling after trying it at Frammingham, the vineyard famous for this varietal. To my surprise, I liked the dry Riesling. To my surprise, I also fell in love again with pinot noir and am convinced that some of the best pinot comes from this region as well.
Vineyard #3: Bladen
I had some false starts along the way. The worst of the cycling was going to Bladen which did not have a paved road leading to the vineyard. It did have a nice bottle of gewürztramine, which wins the award for best new wine in a supporting role.
Vineyard #4: Wairau River
It was time for lunch at Wairau River. To start, I ordered a bottle of sauvignon blanc reserve. My pallette is not refined to tell the difference between reserve sauvignon and standard. Sauvignon blanc either tastes the way it ought to taste, light and crisp, or it is just bad wine mislabled as sauvignon.
Vineyard #5: Nautilus
Like Yarra, the wine tasting evolved into a wine crawl. When we showed up at Nautilus, the pourer was not impressed with our demeanor. She recommended water which incidentally tasted better than any of the samples we had.
Vineyard #6: No. 1
At this point, we were short on time but thirsty to try Marlborough’s bubbles. A quick stop at No. 1 reaffirms that South Africa does bubbles better than Marlborough (see The Best Bubbly Comes From Franschhoek, Not France).
I returned to the rental shop without incident but am no closer to purchasing a bike or getting on another one anytime soon.
Do the bike wine tour. The scenery is beautiful. You get to go at your own pace. And you’ll live to tell about it.
TPOL’s TIP: Wine Tours by Bike: 33 Blicks Rd, Blenheim 7204, New Zealand; +64 3-572 7954