Brancott Estate - New Zealand

Brancott Estate - New Zealand
A rifle with a telescopic sight was the second thing to catch my eye at Brancott Estate’s tasting room. The first was the view from up high on a narrow ridge that rose sharply from the valley floor. Through a glass wall the length of the building one could precise rows of light green vines covering nearly all the Wairau Valley. Just a few trees and the odd house interrupted the vines.

It was here in 1975 a sheep pasture was ploughed to create the original Brancott vineyard where the first Sauvignon Blanc vines to be grown on New Zealand’s South Island were planted by Montana Wines. The pungent crisp wines produced from those vines encouraged many others to plant vineyards in the valley and soon New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc was taking the world by storm. Montana Wines, founded in 1934, used the name Brancott in the USA to avoid confusion with the US State and in 2010 changed their name worldwide to Brancott Estate.

As we parked our rental car in the car park below the tasting room a mini bus stopped behind us. We’d been seen driving through the vineyards and the bus came take us up the steep hill.

We sat in a side room looking through the window to the hills on the other side of the valley. A blind descended in front of the window, lights dimmed and a short movie was projected onto the screen.

Then we learned the important part the rifle played. It was aimed at a distant pole using the telescopic sight to ensure all the vines were planted in perfect straight line from the rifle all the way to the distant pole. The movie ended with a view of the Brancott label which shows a mountain range. With the image still projected the screen was raised and we saw the same mountain range in the distance replace the image.

We paid $10 NZD eachfor a premium tasting of ‘Letter Series’, single vineyard wines , including Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Gris – Brancott also pioneered these varieties. The tasting room also serves meals, but we’d already eaten but would have returned to dine had we the time to enjoy the magnificent views.

Another attraction is the opportunity to see the rare and endangered native New Zealand Falcon. Falcons in vineyards are encouraged as they scare away grape eating birds. Brancott sponsor the Marlborough Falcon Trust by donating $1 for each bottle of the Living Land Series wine sold and visitors can get close to a falcon at Brancotts Falcon Encounter facility.

Brancott Estate is close to the town of Blenheim in New Zealand’s Marlborough wine region.

Brancott Estate Heritage Centre
180 Brancott Road,
Brancott Vineyard, Blenheim

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Peter F May is the author of Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape: Odd Wines from Around the World which features more than 100 wine labels and the stories behind them, and PINOTAGE: Behind the Legends of South Africa’s Own Wine which tells the story behind the Pinotage wine and grape.

Peter F May visited Brancott Estate at his own expense

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