Marlborough is All About the Wine, Right?

Author: , January 7th, 2016

Marlborough

Wrong, wrong, WRONG!!

MarlboroughMarlborough is certainly famous for its sauvignon blanc. Yes we are by far the largest wine producing region in NZ and Marlborough sauvignon blanc in all its wonderful forms is lauded throughout the world. At Na Clachan we think Marlborough sauvignon blanc is so good we wrote a song and video extolling its virtues. It’s a tongue in cheek celebration of Marlborough’s best known export. (https://youtu.be/wur8yctcQKs)

But despite the dominance of vineyards in the Wairau and Awatere valleys let’s put the winemaking into perspective. We have about 25,000 hectares (62,500 acres) of grapes which is 250km2. Marlborough comes in at a whopping 12,484 km2 so only about 2% of Marlborough’s total land area is used for grapes. So we have plenty of space to fit in a range of activities and attractions.

Take a few days in Marlborough and enjoy the wide variety of activities and attractions it has to offer.

Let’s start with walking. With a land area that large there has to be some great walks around. True. Perhaps the best known local walk is the world famous Queen Charlotte Track (http://www.qctrack.co.nz) which runs 70km from Ship Cove to Anakiwa in the Marlborough Sounds. There is a huge range of options from walking one-day sections of the track, to completing the full length with camping, backpacker accommodation or luxury lodges. Perhaps one of the great attractions of the track is the option of having your pack transported between accommodations to save you some weight on the day’s walk. Out of the high season you can also use this as a mountain bike track.

MarlboroughIf you fancy something a little more remote head out into the Richmond Ranges with its network of tracks and DOC huts (http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/marlborough/places/mount-richmond-forest-park/). I have spent several days in the Richmond ranges and on some occasions have not seen any other walkers. If you’re feeling energetic you can climb to the top of Richmond, Fishtail or Mt Riley where you will be rewarded with views of the Sounds, Wairau Valley and to the North Island.

Another personal favourite is the Saw Cut gorge walk with its spectacular narrow gorge cut into the limestone. It’s a surreal experience walking through here, but don’t attempt it after heavy rain.

If a gentle stroll is more your kind of walk there are plenty of 1 – 2 hour walks to chose from in both Picton and Blenheim to choose from.

MarlboroughOr perhaps messing about in boats is your thing. The Marlborough Sounds have one tenth of NZ’s total coastline with a maze of sounds, inlets and bays. You can book a fishing charter, take a Mail Boat cruise, go dolphin watching or visit Motuara Island bird sanctuary to see little blue penguins and saddlebacks.

Marlborough kayakMore the independent type? Why not hire a kayak for a few hours and explore the Queen Charlotte or Pelorus Sound? If you can’t decide between the boat and the walk, you can combine the two by taking the water taxi to a drop off on the Queen Charlotte Track, having a walk and being picked up from another bay.

Arts and crafts more your line? Marlborough is home to many artists, potters, wood workers and multi media artists. Many welcome you to their studio if you give them a call ahead of time. On Saturdays in the summer you can catch up with some of the local crafts at the Artisan’s market.

Take a stroll through Pollard Park and the botanic gardens, or visit the Marlborough Museum. The Wairau Bar on the coast east of Blenheim is the site of the earliest known Maori settlement in the South Island. There are several golf courses, a new swimming complex, squash courts, mountain bike trails, ten pin bowling, tennis courts, croquet lawns, multi-screen cinema and a theatre.

Marlborough Omaka Heritage MuseumThe Omaka Heritage Museum (http://www.omaka.org.nz/index.htm) is a treasure trove of WW1 planes and artifacts in stunning settings. You don’t need to be a plane enthusiast to enjoy the stories of pilots, designers and engineers. The museum houses Sir Peter Jackson’s private collection and the tableaux are created by Weta Workshops. While we are on the subject of museums, take a visit to the Edwin Fox in Picton. She is the world’s second oldest surviving merchant sailing ship and is also the only surviving ship that transported convicts to Australia. (http://www.edwinfoxsociety.com)

Marlborough spaBut perhaps all you want to do is pamper yourself at one of the spas around Blenheim and then maybe head out for an alfresco vineyard lunch. There is plenty of choice, many with stunning vineyard settings, a focus on local produce and great wine to accompany your meal.

Marlborough wine tourOf course, if you are a wine drinker, no trip to Marlborough is complete without a wine tour.

Marlborough Na Clachan CottagesNa Clachan (http://www.naclachan.co.nz/marlborough-wine-tour/) offers a range of half and full day tours with the option of a at a vineyard restaurant lunch. Your guide (Chris or Helen) will tailor the tour around the tastes and requests of the group. Its not just about tasting wine – your guide will fill you in on the history, the stories and the people who pioneered wine making in Marlborough. We may be newcomers to the wine world with a short history, but there are plenty of stories to share along with the wines. Although sauvignon blanc is the main varietal here you can expect to be tempted with chardonnay, riesling, sparkling wine, gewurztraminer, pinot gris, pinot noir and more. Pace yourself though, it can be an exhausting experience!

Article By Helen Redshaw
Visit the Na Clachan Cottages Website

Marlborough Gay Travel Resources

Lesbian Travel: Self-Guided Winery Tour in Niagara-on-the-Lake

Author: , May 27th, 2015

Pondview Estate Winery

When we travel, we always go where the glass is half full. Of our favorite wine. In Niagara-on-the-Lake. Now that summer’s almost here, there’s always a wine tasting available – and a cute little B&B or inn nearby if you have time to spend the weekend. Talk about the perfect girlfriend getaway.

If you’re a wine-tour groupie like us, we’ve got the 411 on planning a customized wine tour and tasting in Niagara.

“With scenic vineyards and gorgeous wineries, Niagara-on-the-Lake is a popular destination for wine lovers during the summer months,” says Marcel Morgenstern, a Sommelier and national sales manager at Pondview Estate Winery. “With new wineries opening every year, there is never a shortage of things to do or vineyards to explore. Niagara-on-the-Lake’s convenient wine route offers the perfect opportunity to make the most of your vacation.”

By Julia Rosien – Full Story at Go Girlfriend | Southwestern Ontario Gay Travel Resources

Visiting Napa / Sonoma in the Off Season

Author: , February 9th, 2015

Wine GrapesMy favorite time of year to visit Napa and Sonoma are the months of January, February and March. It’s not uncommon to be the only one in the tasting room (hello, library and reserve pours!) or be invited to the cellar or winemaking facility to meet the winemaker. Why? Though the weather — between the 50s and 70s during the day, down to the 40s at night — is considered quite warm for much of the country, Bay Area residents consider it too chilly to visit tasting rooms. Within this window, the golden hue of mustard cover crops in the vineyards from late January through March, and greener grass in March as rainy season begins, makes for fantastically picturesque drives. And it’s all in all cheaper, too. Airfares are lower than in summer months — from JFK to SFO, the major airports serving Napa and Sonoma aside from Oakland, round-trip fares can run as low as $365 over a long weekend; from LAX, it’s just $44 round-trip.

The same goes for wine regions in other parts of the U.S. Out in the Finger Lakes or Long Island, for example, January and February especially offer some of the best hotel rates of the year — while lower flight demand always means cheaper airfare. It’s a no-brainer as far as we’re concerned, but here are a few extra tips for maximizing the experience:

1. Keep an eye out for seasonal hotel deals.

Like we said, during the winter months, you can score a steep discounts at hotels. Using Napa and Sonoma again as an example, the quaint English Tea Garden Inn in Cloverdale is offering 50 percent off the second night through March 30, with first night starting rates from $225. Similarly, Fern Grove Cottages in Guerneville gives you the third night free, with rates between $99 and $289, through February 28. At the luxe Harborfront Inn on Long Island’s North Fork, there are plenty of weekday rates starting from $209 and weekend rates for just $10 more in February — again roughly half of what you can expect to pay in summer.

By Kristine Hansen – Full Story at Shermans Travel | Napa Gay Travel Resources | Sonoma Gay Travel Resources

Visiting Northern California’s Napa and Sonoma Valleys

Author: , May 1st, 2013

Sonoma VineyardWine lovers have surely heard of the Napa Valley, one of the pre-eminent wine regions in the US. Jimmy Im takes you there for Passport Magazine:

Napa Valley receives millions of visitors a year, and over 20% of them identify as business travelers. While peak season occurs in the summer and fall months, winter and spring sees an average high of 62 degrees and, according to locals, is a favorable time to visit as there are less crowds, more personal attention at vineyards, and lower room rates. Despite all the hedonistic temptations of Michelin-star chefs, indulgent spas, well-appointed accommodations, and one-of-a-kind vineyards, business can be conducted in Napa, thanks to a number of impressive meeting facilities. While gay tourism grows every year in steady numbers, the LGBT community has been visible for decades.

Napa’s a great place to spend a romantic weekend – stay at a local B&B and drive around to some of the best wineries in the country, or head next door for the Gay Wine Weekend in Sonoma in June. Gay Travel Information reports:

Out in The Vineyard is proud to announce GAY WINE WEEKEND 2013 in California Wine Country -Featuring TWILIGHT T Dance, a weekend of wine & celebration, benefiting Face to Face, Sonoma County AIDS Network. Three full days of LGBT events in Northern California’s magnificent Sonoma Valley -home to some of the world’s most prestigious wines and wineries. Celebrate with world class wine and culinary delights, music and dancing in a private estate vineyard, VIP receptions, wine tasting excursions, champagne brunch and wine auction in one of the most famous luxury wine destinations in the world.

Click here for gay travel resources in Napa County.

Click here for gay travel resources in Sonoma County.