Before arriving in the adventure capital of the world we’d heard all about the fabulous Central Otago wine region. So naturally we had to jump on a Queenstown wine tour! Our afternoon of wine tasting with Altitude Tours ended up being one of our favorites days on the South Island of New Zealand. From Gibbston Valley to Brennan Winery, we share the highlights of our tour sipping wine in famous Central Otago.
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Queenstown Wine Tour with Altitude
Altitude Tours has a great reputation in Queenstown, and for good reason. The best way to describe our Central Otago wine tour was upscale and fun. We LOVE wine tasting, and have visited many of the great wine regions in the world.
So trust us when we say there is no better way to do it than being transferred between vineyards while learning about the wine making process. We knew from the moment we were picked up that we were in for a great afternoon!
Specifically we loved the fun facts, and all the information we learned from our tour guide/driver in between stops. The Queenstown wine tour we chose was Altitude’s Wine Sampler, but they also offer a Twilight Tasting which includes a brewery if you’d rather that. We hit 4 wineries total on our tour, and even stopped at a great cheese tasting in Arrowtown on our way out of Queenstown!
Fun Facts From Our Central Otago Wine Tour
1983: The first grapes were planted by Alan Brady of Gibbston Valley winery. Many doubters said it was too cold to grow wine here, but he proved them wrong!
Small But Mighty: Only 3% of the wine in New Zealand is produced in Central Otago, but it’s known as some of the best wine in the country.
Gold to Grapes: Prior to becoming a wine region, this area was actually known for its gold mining. The 1860’s brought immigrants from all over the world looking to strike it rich!
Global Awards: The wine in this part of New Zealand has won many awards for its Pinot Noir. If you’re like us, you may have never even knew you liked this style of red wine before going to places like Brennan Winery or Gibbston Valley.
Going Organic: Many of the wineries we visited were either fully organic, or heading in that direction. It is definitely a trend in Central Otago, and it did not affect the taste whatsoever!
Best Queenstown Wine Tour Stops
Gibbston Valley Winery
Our first winery stop was one of the most popular in all of Central Otago. The claim to fame of Gibbston Valley winery is that it’s actually home to New Zealand’s largest wine cave! The cave was actually blasted out with dynamite, and you will notice the difference as you make your way inside.
You know it’s going to be a fun day when you’re having your first sip of wine shortly after breakfast! What made Gibbston Valley Winery so special was that we had our tasting inside the cave. Here we tried 4 amazing wines including our first of Pinot Noir.
Kinross Winery & Lunch
Kinross was the next stop on our Queenstown wine tour, and it didn’t disappoint! Even though Central Otago is famous for its Pinot Noir, the whites were the star of the show at Kinross. We especially loved the Liquid Gold, and Hawkshead Pinot Gris. Our wine guide was from Bordeaux France, and he was very knowledgable about the area.
Kinross was also where we stopped for lunch. We appreciated having lunch early (around noon) as other wine tours we’ve been on are much later in the day. I mean, it’s good to have some food in your stomach when you’re on a Queenstown wine tour!
The food is gourmet style, and the lamb dish we had was delicious. They also have some great sourdough pizzas, chicken, and beef cheek burgers on the menu.
Mt Rosa Winery
Just down the road we visited Mt Rosa winery, which was the perfect after lunch stop. The owner was an interesting character, and we got an in depth explanation of his wine making process. Here we learned that 2018 was the hottest summer in years, and in turn produced some of the best wine New Zealand has ever seen!
At Mt Rosa we got more tastings than anywhere else on our Queenstown wine tour. This even included a special mulled wine that was unique to the other vineyards. A mini-German Shepard named “Baz” proudly roams the fields at Mt Rosa. While he’s very modest, Baz is actually a mini celebrity in the area. Be sure to give him a belly rub for us!
The last stop on our Central Otago wine tour was actually right across the street from Mt Rosa. If you traveled in style to New Zealand you may have seen Brennan Wines on your flight before… That’s because their B2 blend is so good it’s actually been served in business class on Air New Zealand!
Brennan Winery was also where we realized how much we actually enjoy Pinot Noir. In complete honesty, Pinot Noir has never really been our among our favorite wines.
Before our Queenstown wine tour we never knew how much we liked it! I guess when you’re sipping Pinot Noir in one of the best places to grow it in the world it just tastes better.
What separates Brennan Winery from the rest was the beautiful scenery. It’s situated perfectly under the mountains, and the vineyard seemed to be more in bloom than anywhere else we visited.
After a fun afternoon of wine tasting we arrived back in Queenstown feeling pretty good! It’s best to not plan anything too intense for the night after a long day of sampling. Have any questions about our Central Otago wine tour with Altitude or want to share your own favorite vineyards to visit from Queenstown? Leave us a comment below!
Brigitte & Jake
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Where To Stay In Queenstown New Zealand
Ultra Luxury – Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel – Looking for a little luxury in between all your Queenstown hikes? This beautiful boutique hotel has panoramic views of Southern Alps, a restaurant on-site, and is close to all the best ski resorts.
Fun Vacation – Kamana Lakehouse – Just 5 minutes drive from the center of Queenstown is this amazing accommodation right on Lake Wakatipu. Enjoy rooms with balconies and stunning views of the lake, and an art-deco style restaurant and bar.
Budget Travel – Mi-pad Smart Hotel – This high end, but budget friendly hotel is the perfect location near all the cities attractions. It’s just a short walk from start of the Tiki Trail in Queenstown, and all the best restaurants and bars in town.
Hostel Life – Tahuna Pod Hostel – This fun hostel is in the heart of Queenstown, and incorporates traditional Maori designs into its build. Choose from a multitude of pod rooms, or book a private room.
For more places to stay in Queenstown New Zealand you can explore the latest prices here!
New Zealand Travel Planning
Jucy Van: The best way to explore New Zealand is with a Jucy camper! We spent over six weeks driving around the North and South Islands in a van and loved every moment.
Rental Car: If you’re not renting a van you’ll still need a vehicle to get around. We use Discover Cars when traveling and enjoy having the freedom to get around.
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide to find activities all over New Zealand! They have everything from a Milford Sound cruise with underwater observatory, to a Otago wine tour with gourmet wine & lunch, and even a Kaikoura whale watching cruise!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered. We’ve been using SafetyWing for insurance the last few years and they are always there when we need them.
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