A Sunny Day at Cloudy Bay Winery
Leah Walker August 24, 2012

Spring had sprung in the South Island of New Zealand, and in the Marlborough wine region, farmers were selling their fruit crops roadside. Pink blossoms and yellow gorse stood out from the never-ending green fields. Being early in the morning, there was still a slight nip in the air, but the cloudless sky allowed the sun to shine brightly. It would warm up shortly; it’s the hot and sunny days followed by cool nights that make Marlborough perfect for grape growing.

Marlborough Vineyard

I had two nights in Blenheim, and with over 100 wineries in the area, there was no way I could see them all. The Marlborough region is located in the northeast part of the South Island. It produces pinot noir and chardonnay, but it is most famous for its sauvignon blanc. New Zealand’s Marlborough region is home to some of the finest producers of sauvignon blanc in the world, and depending on who you ask, Cloudy Bay is often mentioned as one of the very best. Located less than two miles from my cottage, Cloudy Bay’s Cellar Door made it to the top of my to-do list.

Cloudy Bay Winery 8

Through my husband’s work in Singapore, I met a Kiwi by the name of Byrne. He’d recently retired and moved back to Nelson, located just down the road from Blenheim. He, along with his wife, Celi, met my husband and me at Cloudy Bay’s Cellar Door for an afternoon of wine and delicious eats.

Driving out to the winery, I immediately recognized the scenery, but I couldn’t place how. After all, it was my first time visiting New Zealand. It wasn’t until I saw the Cloudy Bay logo that everything made sense. The Richmond Range, the mountains that surround the region, is used in the design on the wine labels.

Cloudy Bay Winery 1

The early afternoon light poured through the Cellar Door’s floor-to-ceiling windows. Although the contemporary decor inside was eye-catching, it was the giant lawn just outside of the over-sized, sliding-glass doors that was the real star. Coming from drought-stricken Texas, it was the most lush and brilliant green I’d seen in a long time. It was like the fairways at Augusta National.

Cloudy Bay Winery 7

The courtyard was inviting with its picnic tables, umbrellas, and ultra-chic bean bag-style chairs. Ivy climbed the building walls and beautiful blooms filled the surrounding flowerbeds. Giant trees with an unusual peeling bark provided a bit of shade from the strong New Zealand afternoon sun. We claimed one of the tables looking out over Cloudy Bay’s grape fields and anticipated the arrival of our waitress.

Cloudy Bay Winery 3

Eager to try their specialty, it wasn’t hard for any of us to decide what we wanted to drink. A round of the 2011 sauvignon blanc was ordered for the table. The menu described it as “fine yet succulent, with zesty citrus flavours and fresh acidity” with “aromas of ripe stonefruit and juicy citrus with underlying notes of blackcurrant leaf and tomato plant spice.” On such a sunny day, I couldn’t imagine anything more refreshing.

Cloudy Bay Winery 6

I was foolish not to try the complimentary Taste of Cloudy Bay, which includes the winemaker’s selection of two wines. Drunk on the atmosphere, I just wanted to relax with friends, sip on some delicious wine, and eat some tasty nibbles. With a quick look at the small, yet varied lunch menu, we ordered the cheese & charcuterie plate and pizza for the table to share.

Cloudy Bay Winery 5

A beautifully displayed tray of cheese, smoked meats, olives, home-made bread, and locally-produced honey arrived along with the feta cheese and walnut pesto pizza. The delicious and fresh ingredients were the perfect accompaniment to our 2011 sauvignon blanc. Another round was ordered and the conversation continued.

Cloudy Bay Winery 2

I regret not taking the time to experience a private tasting in the barrel hall and a tour of the pinot noir cuverie. Cloudy Bay’s Cellar Door was so laid-back and peaceful that I simply wanted to drink in the atmosphere and the sauvignon blanc, of course. Byrne and Celi needed to head back to Nelson, and my husband and I were ready for the next winery. Our time was short in the Marlborough region, and we had many more wonderful glasses of wine to taste.

Leah Walker

Leah has a marketing management company specializing in strategy, content creation and implementation for luxury brands and destinations. She's also a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. Leah documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. She sometimes freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, USA Today 10 Best, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel and wine ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's lived in Paris for five years, and was awarded additional time with a Passeport Talent visa. Though, her talent for speaking French is abysmal.


  1. We spent five days in Blenheim.. how could we have missed Cloudy Bay?! I honestly thought we hit all the vineyards. Lol. Love a winery that has cheese and charcuterie plate – they’re surprisingly hard to find in most. One of my favorite winery from that region is Forrest.

    1. I have no idea, Kieu. Cloudy Bay is one of the most famous wineries in the area. Maybe you hit it but just forgot after all that wine. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your favorite. I’ve never heard of Forrest. Going to have to check that one out.

      1. omg i just saw this beautiful blog of you my dear leah,, thank you so much for meeting us in new zealand i pretty much miss that winery, the food was fantastic, and the views was heaven oh i cant wait to come back in blenhiem next year,, as i move up north of auckland now,, and soon moving to queensland australia for good,, oh i hope we meet again soon for more fun fun fun,, thnx a lot and god bless us all,, muah muah,,, celi,,,

  2. I knew I was going to be jealous when I saw the name of the post. While I got to see a lot of NZ, I had not been able to build in time for wine country (gasps from all who know me!). Your experience reminds me of the one I had in Stellenbosch, South Africa – a lot more relaxed and with wineries just happy to have you there (unlike in other places in the world…). Glad you got to experience this! Cloudy Bay is usually in my wine rack!

    1. Yes, come to think of it, I’m shocked that you didn’t build time into your itinerary for wine country in New Zealand. It was so laid back at Cloudy Bay. Of course, everything in New Zealand seemed laid back to me. It’s part of the country’s charm, I think.

  3. thank you leah and matt. me and my hubby enjoy a lot of meeting you guys at this place is so nice. i enjoy the scenery as well as my husband too. we love the food and wine is so good. it make my day a complete heaven, thanx again and till our next meeting place. i cant wait that to happen. take care, leah and matt. lots of love,, oxox,,,,

    1. Thanks to you both for meeting us in Blenheim. It was so great to see you two after all these years. It was such a wonderful day, and I wouldn’t have wanted to spend it with anyone else.

      1. dont forget to visit us in australia, when i move thre next year,, and when i get my kiwi passport i will visit you in texas as i wanted to travel on route 66,, hehe wish i can hope so,, thnx,, hugs hugs,,

  4. How were you able to leave this place?! My goodness, it’s gorgeous. I can see why you said you just wanted to relax and enjoy the scenery. Sauvignon blanc is probably my favorite type of white wine; I’ll have to see if I can get some Cloudy Bay in these parts.

    1. Believe me, Francesca, I didn’t want to. I could have cozied up with a bottle in those bean bag chairs well into the night. You shouldn’t have any problem finding Cloudy Bay. It seems very well distributed in the USA. I find it in my grocery store in Houston.

    1. Let me tell you, that charcuterie plate was simply delicious. The cheeses and honey speared on the homemade bread was just divine.

  5. It looks crisp, refreshing, delicious: an oxymoron of a name? Maybe. I enjoyed the reflections on the glass. Give me a perfect chilled glass of white wine and beautiful views and I’m more than a happy camper.

    1. Yes, most definitely an oxymoron. How astute of you to point out. That reflection in the glass was by pure luck. I didn’t even notice it until I uploaded it to my computer. And yes, a chilled glass of wine, beautiful views, AND a cupcake. 🙂

  6. i’m thirsty. gorgeous pictures, Leah. i love to go wine tasting and this reminds me that it’s been a while since i’ve done that. happy we’ll be doing a bit of tasting while in Europe together!

    1. We will certainly get our fill of wine while in Europe. I can’t wait to kick back with you as we taste bottle after bottle after bottle….

  7. I’m ashamed to admit that I still have yet to ever tour a winery…anywhere. Your pictures sure make a case for making it happen whenever I visit New Zealand.

    1. Since you’re a big brewery fan, I’d think that you’d like a winery. I started going to wineries in college when I was broke and acquired a taste for it. Now it’s my favorite thing to drink. A place like Cloudy Bay is so laid back, at least the day I was there. I say make sure you do visit at least one.

    1. Oh, you two would drink them out of wine, I’m sure. Of course, you’d need to forgo your usual red in favor of the speciality of the house. 🙂

  8. What a great setting for a glass or three of wine. I may retire and move to Nelson myself. What a great name for a town.

    1. There are far worse places to live than Nelson, New Zealand. 🙂 I could certainly see you kicking back here for a full afternoon.

  9. This is a lovely post. I have never been to NZ, but my BFF is from there and raves about this place. Luckily, we are able to find Cloudy Bay in the UK and have experiences these great wines – and will make sure there are enough on the cellar when you arrive to see is later in the year 🙂 May need to stock up

    1. I do really enjoy Cloudy Bay, but I actually prefer red wines to white, even in the summer. I know, I’m crazy like that. And yes, your cellar will need to be fully stocked upon my arrival.

  10. All right, as if I didn’t have enough reasons to visit NZ, now there’s this… Must.Go. There. I’d fly just for that Savignon Blanc.

    1. Oh, Pola, the wine is the icing on the beautifully iced cake. New Zealand is the greatest place on earth. I’m convinced that God lives there.

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