Travel: Mike Yardley pays a flying visit into wine country

Sun-drenched Blenheim might well be brilliant every day. Bluebird skies and gentle sunshine faithfully bathed my late winter fling with the city, as the first hint of spring started to bud in languid, leafy Seymour Square.

As New Zealand’s largest winegrowing region, revered for its globally-acclaimed sauvignon blanc, this wonderland of vines and wine groans with temptations. Marlborough produces 75 per cent of New Zealand’s wine with 85 per cent of that being sauvignon blanc.

My first stop was in the bucolic embrace of the Awatere Valley, the gateway to New Zealand’s flagship wine region. With over 30 cellar doors studding the Marlborough Wine Trail, I’m a huge fan of the Yealands Estate, for its scenic delights and sustainability prowess, nestled on the Seaview Peninsula.

The roof of the winery houses the nation’s largest solar panel installation (over 1300 of them), while wind turbines, native plantings and free-range animals, including miniature Babydoll sheep, are all part of the organic, eco-friendly mix. Before tasting the wines, you can savour many of the signature vineyard features by taking a complimentary self-guided drive on the 7km-long White Route Tour.

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