If you’re looking to celebrate International Sauvignon Blanc Day this Friday, look no further than Marlborough, New Zealand, where 16 days of celebrations leading up to the event will come to a climax on the big day, 5 May.
The famous wine region was the first in the world to begin its activities to commemorate the international celebration, launching a series of mini events, tastings and tours in the run-up as part of ‘16 days of Sauvignon’ to allow tourists to experience the best of the area’s exceptional wine.
Marlborough accounts for almost 80% of New Zealand’s wine exports and is hailed as New Zealand’s sunniest region: the abundance of sunlight, coupled with Marlborough’s free-draining soil, creates the perfect climate for growing their internationally renowned sauvignon blanc grapes. Marlborough is home to over six-dozen wineries offering daily tours that reveal the story of how the bottles are produced.
Sauvignon blanc first put Marlborough on the map in the mid 1990s. The rise of this variety of wine happened quite quickly, though. In the mid 1980s, a bumper crop of grapes lead to an overproduction of white wine, leading some vineyards to go bankrupt; the government paid those growers to pull their grapes. Another underlying factor in the rise of sauvignon blanc was when the grapevine-feeding insect, phylloxera, destroyed existing grape varieties. With the removal of less desirable grapevines, growers began planting sauvignon blanc after Ernie Hunter won a gold medal at a 1986 London wine competition for his oak-aged sauvignon blanc from New Zealand.
As well as its impressive vineyards, Marlborough also has a lot more to offer. From dolphin watching in Picton and hiking Queen Charlotte Track surrounded by jaw dropping views to eating green-lipped mussels in Havelock, Marlborough is one of the premier travel destinations in the New Zealand archipelago.