Wine tasting in Queenstown

What do Burgundy, Oregon and Otago have in common?

They all make outstanding Pinot Noir.

So when in Queenstown, no trip is complete with out visiting the vineyards and sampling some of the delicious wines produced in the area.

We are booked onto ‘The Wine Trail Tour’ with Queenstown Winery Tours. We are picked up from our hotel by our fun and knowledgeable host, Susana. There are 7 of us on this tour, plus Susana, and within minutes we are all chatting away like old friends.

Our first stop is not to a vineyard. Susana take us to Lake Hayes. A beautiful, picturesque lake just outside Queenstown’s center. While taking in the scenery (and Daniel is photographing ducks) we play a little game to help prepare us for what lies ahead.

You may recall in a previous post, I smelt a range of wine fragrances then tried to match them to their scent without much luck. You can read that post here. Even with my previous experience, the results were no different. I wont be giving up my day job!

We smelt many fragrances, from sweet smelling strawberry to pineapple to lychee to some less expected ones like mushroom and peat. We were also educated in the art of wine tasting (it is very technical) so we could all at least pretend that we knew what we are doing.


Our first vineyard is Akarua. With a beautiful outdoor dining area, set amongst mature trees, it is not only the perfect place to taste some wine, but also to enjoy an exquisite meal.

I love travel shows and on a Canadian travel vlog, I heard about something called ‘ice wine’. A dessert wine that has been made with grapes that have frozen on the vine.

I have wanted to try it ever since.

My lucky day – I was informed that Akarua is the only place in New Zealand that produces it. (The grapes are artificially frozen as they don’t get enough consecutive freezing cold days to produce it naturally) Deliciously sweet and sticky, needless to say a bottle of this came home with us.

After our wine tastings we delved into a scrumptious shared lunch which provided a great opportunity to chat with our fellow wine tasting tour buddies and get to know them more.

The food was amazing, as was the company.

We then headed to Chard Farm by way of a narrow winding road next to a very steep drop. (I feel like our 4 wheel drive trip to Skippers Canyon the day before prepared us well for this!) The scenery at Chard Farm is gorgeous!

Chard Farm produce another of my favourite wines, Gewurztraminer. It was not on the tasting list that day, so I purchased a bottle. I am still yet to try it.

Moving onto Gibbston Valley we go on a short tour around the vines, learning about the wine making process. We then head into their wine cave (The largest in New Zealand) for our wine tasting experience.

Our last stop for the day is Wet Jacket located in a beautifully done up wool shed. The wines we tasted were all exquisite. We tasted 6. I was about to suggest to Daniel that we buy one of each when he spotted another wine, not available for tasting, called ‘The Pirate’. An exclusive Pinot Noir in a leather bound bottle complete with a map of Dusky Sounds (Where Wet Jacket Arm is).

Instead of 6 bottles of wine, we walked away with The Pirate, number 893 of 929.

We purchased this on our 10 year wedding anniversary, I think we will be saving this for our 20th anniversary. (Or another level 4 lock down)