Forgive me. I’m not sure if there’s any other travel writing trip I’ve taken that’s had me apologising to so many people, so let me start by asking your forgiveness from the get-go! Once you read my NZ Herald article and see the photos below it will make sense – this was a very jealous-making little adventure. For a start, it involved free wine and plenty of it. But more than that, there were helicopters, lake-side fishing excursions, glaciers, rainforests, deserted beaches, charming gardens, amazing food and, oh, I nearly forgot, the same accommodation Oprah Winfrey and Reece Witherspoon recently stayed at!
All of which is thanks to Cloudy Bay who celebrated the opening of their truly stunning new cellar door property in Central Otago, ‘The Shed’, by flying in me and a bunch of other writers and wine enthusiasts from all over the world. With Cloudy Bay one of the most highly regarded wine brands in New Zealand for more than 30 years, it’s been with much fanfare that they’ve decided to expand beyond their established Marlborough base at the top of the South Island.
The thinking makes sense: with more tourists heading to the internationally acclaimed surrounds of Queenstown than to Marlborough, why not acquire a couple of outstanding Central Otago vineyards too? So that’s what Cloudy Bay have done and while the end process as far as the company’s wineries are concerned still happens to the north of the South Island in Marlborough, there’s no doubt Central Otago can grow some outstanding grapes. World class even.
As explained in the article:
“Scouring the region for vineyards that weren’t just visually stunning but could produce grapes that would honour the Cloudy Bay reputation, in the early part of this decade they found what they were looking for. Purchasing the Northburn Vineyard overlooking the teal waters and mesmeric, shadowy mountain landscapes of Lake Dunstan, the company also starting leasing part of the nearby Calvert vineyard. This is not a part of the world lacking in the looks department, but wow. In both settings, though particularly the Northburn vineyard where Cloudy Bay now have ‘The Shed’, I couldn’t stop taking photos.”
Speaking of photos, you’ll see below just how incredible the setting for The Shed is and why you need to make sure it’s at the top of any Central Otago wine-trail itinerary you’re planning. And then beyond the photos of The Shed, you’ll also see why the scenery in this part of the country – as well as the neighbouring Fiordland – is just so jaw-dropping.
In the article I talk about an unforgettable lunch we were treated to having being choppered into a remote clearing in the lush rainforests of Fiordland National Park. Cloudy Bay gave us a full helicopter-based day of fishing in Lake Wanaka, a glacier landing in the Southern Alps, the witnessing of crayfish baskets being retrieved and dropped on a West Coast beach, the now famous lunch in the Fiordland forest clearing and then a return to The Shed via a postcard-perfect vegetable, herb and flower garden in Wanaka. It’s not hyperbole to say this was mind-blowing so once again, forgive me!
As for that accommodation, Horseshoe Bend Estate is home to two luxury cottages and as mentioned, was where Oprah and Reece Witherspoon stayed during the filming of A Wrinkle In Time a couple of years ago. As much as I love Reece Witherspoon, I’ve decided this means I undoubtedly had Oprah’s cottage! Good on me. If it was Oprah’s, with three bedrooms, two massive living rooms, alpine views and a deck that opens to a tennis court, she wouldn’t have been complaining.
Enjoy the rest of the photos, the first 16 of which are all from Cloudy Bay’s two Central Otago properties with the rest from Wanaka, Horseshoe Bend Estate, the Southern Alps and Fiordland. And then make sure to click here if you haven’t yet read my full NZ Herald article and do visit the Cloudy Bay website for further details. Many thanks!
- The Cloudy Bay Shed is located at 45 Northburn Station Road in Cromwell and is open 11am-5pm, seven days a week.
- The Shed has a lunch menu to pair with their full range of Cloudy Bay wines. These can be enjoyed by the fireplace in winter, or outside by the lake in summer.
- A range of tasting experiences and vineyard tours – by land or air – are available.
- Visit cloudybay.co.nz for more.