Definitely not a fluke. We win a TripAdvisor Award again for 2018
TRIPADVISOR CERTIFICATE OF EXCELLENCE AWARD WINNERS – 4 YEARS IN A ROW
Well we’re pretty excited. It’s not a fluke! Wanaka Wine Tours has won another TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award. 4 years in a row! How cool is that?
Pretty damn cool to receive such consistent recognition from our clients. All our super-friendly guides live in Wanaka and many have worked in the wine industry in Central Otago or other wine areas around the world. Not only do they bring their unique local knowledge to every tour but also very specialised wine expertise to every tour. It’s fantastic that all this hard work has been rewarded by such great client feedback. We’ve been striving to give the best possible wine tour experience ever since we took over the company in 2014. These consecutive TripAdvisor Awards for every year since give us direct feedback that we’re on the right track!
Even more exciting, Wanaka Wine Tours could be in the running for induction to the Trip Advisor Hall of Fame in the coming year. The “Hall of Fame” Award is awarded to those tourism businesses that achieve Certificate of Excellence Awards for 5 consecutive year and we’re just one year away!
Central Otago vineyards have trebled in number over the last 20 years and the region has established an international reputation for producing a distinctive Pinot Noir in the southernmost wine growing region in the world. Wanaka Wine Tours specialises in small groups tours (max. 8 persons) visiting the region’s boutique wineries. You won’t see any big bus tours at these wineries. The wineries are owner operated and clients are treated to the unique background stories that go into making of each wine. Many of the wineries are not open to the public. As long term Wanaka locals, Wanaka Wine Tours has access to many wineries that tourists would never find or be permitted to visit.
As Richard, one of our most senior guides at Wanaka Wine Tours says “It is not just about drinking wine…it’s about tasting and recognising flavours. A great day for me as a guide is when our clients expand their palettes and try a range of different wine varieties. Our tours are specifically designed to give our guests this opportunity.”
Wanaka Wine Tours makes it easy for visitors to Wanaka to sample the region’s wines. Our guests can sit back and relax, while their guide does the driving and there are a number of tour options available from half to full day tours with gourmet platter lunches showcasing the local produce. Our team can also put together a totally custom tour to suit any client requirements.
In addition to tasting a wide variety of wines, Wanaka Wine Tours visits some of the most scenic vineyards in the region, all with spectacular mountain and rural views. Some with lake and river views too. For wine lovers who also have an interest in photography or just a group wanting to capture a fun day out, the views just add that extra element to what is already a fun and informative tour.
Megan and I are long term Wanaka locals. I’ve lived most of my life in Wanaka. My aunt and uncle were some of Wanaka’s pioneer tourism operators. Back in the 1950’s – Graeme and Olive West operated, “Malibu” a tourist boat trip on Lake Wanaka. “Gra” as he was known was famous for boiling a billy tea for his clients and being able to hold the freshly boiled billy in his bare hands while filled people’s cups.
While I don’t have the same “asbestos hands” like my Uncle Gra, my best trick is to find the most interesting boutique wineries to share with our clients. However, I truly believe that the advantage of having a local guide can never be understated. A local guide knows all the best places and times to go, they will have a great “Plan B” if something unpredictable occurs and most importantly they have real first hand knowledge and experience to share with clients. These skills can’t be taught or franchised – they come from living in the region.
Bring on 2018!
Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence Awards 2017 – Third Year in a Row!
It’s a trifecta! Three years in a row, Wanaka Wine Tours has achieved a Certificate of Excellence Award from Trip Advisor. All thanks to our kind guests who’ve consistently given us ratings of 4 stars and above on Trip Advisor .
We are humbled by the support and all the encouraging feedback we receive from guests on our wine tours. Congratulations to my hard-working hubby, Scott (“Westy”) and his team of dedicated guides, who go out of their way to ensure that all our Wanaka Wine Tour guests have a great day out tasting and learning about our unique Central Otago wines.
Personally, I think the secret to our trifecta of Trip Advisor Awards is that Westy and his team love their jobs so much…
I’m thinking that our most recent guest, Paul, sums it up pretty neatly, when he reviewed his trip on Trip Advisor just 6 days ago…
“We recently experienced Scotts fantastic winery tour of the Wanaka region. Scott was very knowledgeable about the area, the history and the wines and wineries. We visited a number of more boutique smaller wineries which is what we requested and we were not disappointed. Having had such a great time we would not hesitate to book Scott again for when we next visit the region. I have also already recommended the tour to a work colleague who will be visiting the area in August.”
Thanks Paul for the kind words and to all our wonderful guests who have taken a Wanaka Wine Tour with us in 2017.
Bring on 2018!
The people behind the vineyards of Wanaka Wine Tours – Aitken’s Folly
On a Wanaka Wine Tour, you won’t just visit the big corporate owned vineyards frequented by the big bus wine tours. You’ll visit tiny vineyards run by people from all walks of life but all who share a passion for producing some of Wanaka & Central Otago’s finest wines.
One of our favourite vineyards to visit is the tiny local Wanaka vineyard owned by Ian Percy & Fiona Aitken and their childeren Johnny and Isobel. Both Ian and Fiona are geologists and so while they know a fair bit about where their soil came from and what it contains, establishing a vineyard was a steep learning curve. It’s not hard to see where their vineyards name “Aitkens Folly” came from. But with the help of viticulturist James Dicey and well known Wanaka winemakers Dan & Sara-Kate Dineen, they are producing some fine drinking chardonney and pinot noir. Come and taste some with us.
Best time for wine tasting in Wanaka?
Well…actually… there is no ” best time” to go wine tasting. Most people will agree…”anytime is good” But an Autumn wine tour of Wanaka & Central Otago vineyards with Wanaka Wine Tours is a great time to choose. In April, the vines are glowing in their rich autumn red & gold colours. The vines are weighed down with deep purple pinot grapes and the burnised gold of the region’s white varieties. It’s nearly harvest time and the winemakers are anxious to see what this year’s vintage will produce. If you love photography as well as exploring the huge range of flavours let Wanaka Wine Tours take you to some of the most scenic vineyard locations in NZ!
The Central Otago region is famous for its wine country – but you really only understand why when you go out and visit the wineries.
Sure, Central Otago wines are internationally-renowned for their varieties and characteristic flavours, but add to that spectacular scenery and friendly, hospitable people, and you have a truly award-winning combination.
I’m not a wine writer and know little about wines, but I do enjoy learning about them while drinking. So a half-day boutique wine tour with Wanaka Wine Tours was a perfect way to get acquainted with the Central Otago’s wines.
A wine tour is the perfect activity when you’re after some downtime during an action-packed holiday, or a great winter activity instead of going skiing or snowboarding in Queenstown or Wanaka.
Owner Scott West picked us up in the brand new Ford Transit Tourneo six-seat van and explained the order of the day: Swallows Crossing, near Tarras, followed by Wooing Tree in Cromwell, then Wild Earth near Queenstown and finally Aurum Wines, in Cromwell, before heading back to Wanaka.
“We tailor our tours to the season, our guests and the day of the week,” Scott explains. “We try to give our guests a good cross-section of what Wanaka, Queenstown and Central Otago have to offer in regard to its wines, plus we always make sure our guests are fed great local food.”
Swallows Crossing create organic pinot noir, rose, pinot gris, Riesling and the “G-Spot” (an aromatic blend) using no sulphites during the winemaking process. Winery co-owner Julie Asher tells us that their wine maker, Matt Dicey – who also makes wine for Mt Difficulty in Bannockburn – says Swallows Crossing grapes have a savoury character and herbaciousness that they can’t replicate in Bannockburn, which is why some Swallows Crossing grapes are supplied to Mt Difficulty.
Wooing Tree – known also for its distinct tree in the middle of the family-owned vineyard – create pinot noir, chardonnay, rose and “Blondie”, (blanc noir). Their cellar door is located in spectacular surroundings and caters well to children, with a dedicated outdoor play area.
Driving through the Kawarau Gorge towards a historic gold mining area where Wild Earth is situated, Scott tells us about our next stop, Wild Earth. Chefs cook all the food served in custom-built wine barrel cookers, and each cooker is crafted from Wild Earth’s retired French oak pinot noir barrels. This allows them to create a unique grilled, steamed and smoked food dining experience.
The food was divine – and all expertly paired with three wines. The locally-sourced wild hare was paired with Wild Earth pinot gris, rose with the salmon and pinot noir with the venison.
Heading back home, we stopped at boutique family-owned Aurum Wines. Aurum produces pinot noir, mathilde reserve pinot noir, madeleine pinot noir, pinot gris, Riesling, chardonnay and method traditionelle blanc de blanc. Aurum’s tasting room is situated in the charming original farm cottage.
The tour lasted four hours – during which time we were comfortably transported while enjoying incredible mountain and lake views and fantastic, informative company. We came away much more knowledgeable about Central Otago wines and would thoroughly recommend Wanaka Wine Tours.
This review of Wanaka Wine Tours was written by journalist Celia Crosbie. If you’re media and would like to come along on one of our trips for the purposes of a published review, please contact us for more information.
Matching food with Central Otago wines
Wine is meant to be enjoyed with food, and it’s no different when you’re on a wine-tasting tour.
The Central Otago wine region, including Wanaka and Queenstown, is one of the best wine regions in New Zealand. And it produces some amazing food to be matched with the region’s award-winning pinot noir, pinot gris, chardonnay and rosé.
Think deliciously smoked wild Central Otago hare and parsnip puree paired with pinot gris, perfectly cooked venison and beetroot chutney with pinot noir or tender smoked salmon with rosé. Not to mention freshly-baked breads and locally-made cheeses.
When you’re on a wine-tasting tour, it’s important to eat along the way. At Wanaka Wine Tours, we place great emphasis on the concept of food-and-wine matching, which is why all our tours include a stop at wineries that serve gourmet food with excellent wine.
We stop at Wild Earth Restaurant and Cellar Door, near Queenstown. Wild Earth is a truly unique experience, with all food prepared in custom-built wine barrel cookers. Each cooker is crafted from Wild Earth’s retired French Oak pinot noir barrels and enables the chefs to steam and smoke the food.
We drive you there in our brand new, spacious Ford Transit Tourneo six-seat van, or our late-model eight-seat Toyota Hiace Grand Cabin, and let you relax and soak up the surrounds – including historic gold mining ruins high above the Kawarau River – while your food and wine is served.
We also stop at Carrick Vineyard in Bannockburn, where you’ll receive a gourmet platter which normally consists of local cheeses, vine-smoked salmon, pork rillettes, salami, prosciutto, green-lipped mussels and carrot and coriander fritters – served with their award-winning wine, of course.
At Wanaka Wine Tours, we pick you up from your Wanaka accommodation and, depending on which tour you choose, we travel to a selection of amazing Wanaka, Central Otago and Queenstown wineries.
Our tours include a half-day boutique wine tour, where we visit four local wineries for tastings (plus the food matching at either Wild Earth or Carrick), and a Classic wine tour with lunch.
Many of the wineries that we visit are children-friendly, and we have a range of carseats available, so the whole family can have fun on a Wanaka Wine Tours excursion.
If you’re keen to hear more about the Central Otago wine region, get in touch. We’d love to show you around our part of the world.
The best wineries in Central Otago
It’s no secret that Central Otago wines are among the most celebrated in the world.
Best known for our pinot noir and pinot gris, the Central Otago (including Wanaka and Queenstown) region is home to more than 120 vineyards that have produced, and continue to produce, hundreds of award-winning wines.
It’s little wonder then, that people from all over the world come to Wanaka and Queenstown to experience the beauty of our land and the best wineries in Central Otago.
There’s a winery for everyone – whether you’re a discerning wine professional, you want a more personalized chat with the wine maker at the cellar door, or you’re on holiday with the family and want to bring the kids – Central Otago, Wanaka and Queenstown wineries are extremely accommodating.
At Wanaka Wine Tours, we tailor our tours to each season and the requirements of our guests.
Travelling in our brand new, spacious Ford Transit Tourneo six-seat van, or our late-model eight-seat Toyota Hiace Grand Cabin, we pick you up in style from your Wanaka accommodation and make our way across the region, visiting down-to-earth Kiwi winemakers who love sharing their stories with wine enthusiasts.
On our journey we’ll tell you all about the Wanaka and Central Otago region, and why it’s been so successful for New Zealand’s relatively young wine industry. Here it’s all about our bright sunny days, cool nights and long, dry autumns – plus our soils – that make our wines so special. And the climates vary throughout Wanaka, Queenstown and Central Otago, so pinot noir can be distinctly different across the region.
You’ll sample a variety of Central Otago’s world-famous pinot noir wines, as well as rose, chardonnay, pinot gris and Rieslings, plus we make sure you’re fed along the way. We stop at some fantastic wineries that serve superb local food that’s expertly matched with wines.
Our tours include a half-day boutique wine tour, where we visit four local wineries for tastings (including food pairings at one winery), and a Classic wine tour with lunch. The full-day tour is an unhurried, relaxing amble through Central Otago – not only will you sample up to six of our region’s best wines, but you’ll also stop at historic landmarks and scenic points along the way. A winery tour is the perfect activity if you’ve come to Wanaka or Queenstown and want to relax and enjoy our beautiful scenery, delicious food and incredible wine.
We are also equipped to take children, with a range of car seats that can fit in our vans.
If you’re keen to hear more about the Central Otago wine region, we’d love to chat. We know our stuff and have great relationships with wine makers in the Wanaka and Central Otago region.