Nelson is an attractive area at the top of the South Island, with small bustling towns, stunning scenery, a warm temperate climate and bordered by the sea and mountains on each side. The climate is perfect for orchards, market gardens and has long been a haven for inspired artists.
Lesser known outside of New Zealand, is that it has a small wine region producing excellent wines. Of all the wine regions in the South Island, it is the hardest to define as it is quite spread out with no obvious central area or readily identifiable wine style.
Making only 2.4% of New Zealand's wine, Nelson winemakers have often been labeled hobbyists, farming expensive farm land and playing second fiddle to neighbouring Marlborough.
However, the wines produced have become consistently very good especially Chardonnay, the aromatic white wines and some very elegant Pinot Noirs.
And while in the past Nelson was never identified with an iconic wine style, this is rapidly changing as dedicated and passionate winemakers discover the true potential of this region.
Nowadays making a visit to the Nelson you will discover some great New Zealand wine. The best Chardonnays are made with depth, elegance and complexity with fruit that is remarkably pure and intense. You will find Rieslings that are very fine and expressive, textured Sauvignon Blancs with minerality alongside crisp, vivacious tropical fruit and fresh herbal nuances. Pinot Noirs can be weighty in Moutere or pretty in Waimea. Nelson Pinot Noir is always expressive and perfumed, with fine, ripe tannins and complex depths.
While its obvious quality has attracted international recognition by wine critics, being slightly off the beaten track confers a wonderful sense of tranquillity and relaxation in a region with predominantly small, boutique vineyards. When matched with the scenery, vibrant cafés and a myriad of eclectic artists, Nelson is a great place to visit with much to discover.