Marlborough, New Zealand’s largest wine region, relies heavily on growers. Wine arrived here relatively lately (first vineyard plantings of the modern era were 1973, but things didn’t really get going in earnest until the mid-1980s), and much of the development has involved farming families here planting vineyards, in order to sell grapes to wineries.
I spent a day exploring with Mike Eaton, who has worked here since the 1980s and now acts as a vineyard consultant. He established the region’s first hillside, close-planted vineyard in 1991.
We take a look at some of the more interesting spots for growing wine grapes, beginning with the Ensors in the Waihopai Valley. We then visit the Hilles in the upper Brancott, and the Griggs in the Taylor River valley, before heading over to the Awatere Valley, where there are some really interesting vineyards.