One of our favourite things about Central Otago is the stunning wine it produces. While it might not be the first thing you think about when visiting Queenstown, drinking wine and eating cheese is way more up our alley than jumping off a bridge. We’ve mentioned some of our favourite vineyards in our Queenstown top eats post, but this one is more of an exhaustive list for any wine lovers out there. Plus, there’s some cheeky spirits thrown in the mix, if you’re that way inclined.
We’ve visited Amisfield Vineyard a couple of times mainly because their wines are pretty darn good and the beautiful spot shouldn’t be missed. My fave wine is definitely their Pinot Gris, although their Riesling is also pretty special and their reds, their reds are good too. There’s a classy restaurant on premise serving up good food, if you have the time for a nice lunch (make sure you book). Or, just visit the cellar door for a wine tasting if you’re driving past, which you will on your way to Wanaka, Cromwell or even Arrowtown.
When parking up out in front, it will be the dramatic roof line of the winery that you notice first, clearly designed to make the most of the views out in front. What a roof. We did a wine tasting here and while all the wines were pretty good, we left with a Riesling for the road, as it were, ready to drink during our time in Wanaka.
The best thing about this place for me is the fact there’s a cheesery next door (mmm cheese). It’s a little more ‘touristy’ that some of the other wineries on our list, but they’ve got a pretty impressive wine cave I hear you can visit, if you’re into tours. We stopped here last time we were down, bought some cheese and instead of doing a tasting at the cellar door, just bought a cheeky glass of wine to enjoy at the bar…which isn’t a bad shout.
Wet Jacket is a relative new comer to the Queenstown wine scene, only opening a year or two ago. It’s a neat little spot for wine tasting or cheese tasting, or sitting in the sun eating and drinking both. The thing that’s a bit different with Wet Jacket is that there’s no vineyard on the site (don’t be disappointed). But it was set up by a winemaker who apparently knows a thing or two about the industry and the proof is in the wine. The building is pretty darn cute, in a gorgeous setting, totally making it worth a visit. We left with, you guessed it, another Riesling.
Set up on the stunning Bannockburn hills, Mt Difficulty produces some very drinkable wines, including Roaring Meg named after a local landmark (also worth a visit). We recently stopped for a late lunch here and ordered a platter. That sweet sweet board of goodness which was delivered to the table, was about as good as it gets. Just look at it. There’s also some pretty gorgeous looking wines available, and you know there’s nothing like a good bottle of rosé on a hot day.
Even if you don’t have time to stop for a long lunch, Bannockburn is worth a visit regardless. Not only because there’s a few vineyards in the area, but the hillsides are pretty crazy and remind me of something out of a movie.
Set on a dramatic hillside just outside Queenstown, Chard Farm Winery is something special. Turn off Gibbston Highway before you hit the Kawarau Gorge and make your way up Chard Road, a gravel windy drive that leads you past the vines towards the stunning cellar door and winery. When we visited we thought we might get blown off the road (exaggerating only a little bit), and it turned out we were the only ones at the cellar door, which was pretty fine with us. A place like this, all to ourselves? The dream.
And as promised, we’ve chucked the Distillery in this list too, mainly because I’m a little partial to a G&T. Set in the beautiful Cardrona Valley on the Crown Range road, this place has only been around for 2 years and is producing some tasty morsels. While the Whiskey is still in the barrels for another 8 or so years, the Vodka, not only has the most beautiful Italian bottle, can be basically enjoyed straight. We didn’t want to appear rude and leave empty-handed, so we grabbed ourselves a bottle of the Gin to take home for our top shelf. You probably should too.
Hopefully that’s sorted at least a day of your next trip to Central Otago. If you want to read about some more good spots to eat and drink at in this area, check out that blog post I mentioned above. You totally should visit.
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