Culture

The Experience Of A Lifetime With Brancott Estate….

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Frank Yukich Brancott Estate

Last week I was flown to the stunning Brancott Estate Heritage Centre located in Marlborough (New Zealand’s wine region) and it’s there that I had the experience of a lifetime…

Brancott Vineyard in full flourishIf there is one location in New Zealand that I would say is an absolute MUST VISIT, it’s Brancott Estate vineyard in Marlborough.  Not only did I reach a whole new level of appreciation for New Zealand’s pioneers of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, I encountered things that I would never have experienced anywhere else in the world!  Today, Brancott Estate’s Heritage Centre has become a must on tourist itineraries (1.5 million visitors frequent the Marlborough region annually). It features a tasteful restaurant, retail store, tasting rooms, wine education facility and even a theatre. In fact, proving just how special this magical location is, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II made a visit to the vineyard in 1990, at which time she ceremonially planted a vine with a specially made spade and, following ancient tradition, poured sparkling wine over the new vine. I’m fairly certain there will be no other vineyard in New Zealand that has been graced with the Queen’s presence!

My day was spent touring the palatial Brancott Vineyard, wine tasting the new Fumé Blanc with Brancott Estate Chief Winemaker – Patrick Materman (which even included hand-picking some of the new vintage grapes – although admittedly their professionals in the vines made me look like a total rookie), lunch at the Brancott Estate Heritage Centre (you may have seen this fabulous venue when it was featured on The Great Food Race) and the day concluded with a visit to their Falcon aviary.

With a rich and deep history, the Brancott Estate Heritage Centre (located at Brancott Vineyard) offers a rare opportunity for wine lovers and novices to appreciate first-hand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc’s humble beginnings.  In particular the Brancott Estate Heritage Centre provides a platform to honour the location of the original Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc vines planted in 1975, and the success of the varietal that has gone on to become the world’s favourite New Zealand style wine.  Set in the breathtakingly beautiful home of the original Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, the Brancott Estate Heritage Centre opened in 2011 and boasts a cellar door, wine tasting facilities, retail displays, an audio-visual room, a private meeting or dining area featuring the latest technology (the facilities are state-of-the-art), an indoor restaurant as well as an external dining terrace (a little tip – book in advance for the restaurant because let me tell you from experience, when lunchtime hits, this place gets jam-packed!). The Brancott Estate Heritage Centre offers an unrivalled view of this world-famous wine region.

It was here at the Heritage Centre that I first discovered Brancott Estate’s new Special Reserve Marlborough Fumé Blanc – a new expression of the classic Sauvignon Blanc.  The subtle use of French oak during fermentation imparts a distinctive smoky flavour that gives Fumé Blanc its name (Fumé Blanc translates to ‘white smoke).  The result is a wine that shares many characteristics of a barrel-matured Chardonnay but still retains the fresh vibrancy of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Brancott Estate’s new Fumé Blanc is a stunning new varietal that will appeal to both Sauvignon and Chardonnay drinkers alike.

Just one of the many wonderful ways that Brancott Estate gives back is through the Marlborough Falcon Trust. This trust was established in 2009 and is supported by Wine Marlborough in regards to promotion of the trust, but it’s Brancott Estate that is the major sponsor of the Marlborough Falcon Trust.  $1 from every bottle sold in New Zealand from the Brancott Estate Living Land Series range is donated back to the Marlborough Falcon Trust, and it’s this money that has helped to build the breeding aviary located at Brancott Estate, as well as fund further educational programmes.  Through the support of Brancott Estate, educational programmes and promotional events, the Marlborough Falcon Trust hopes to raise the awareness of the plight of the Falcon.  It was onsite at Brancott Estate that I got to experience for the first time in my life, hand feeding one of the amazing Falcons named Fern.  A seriously surreal experience and I for one will be a huge supporter of the trust going forward (admittedly this will no doubt be via several purchases from the Brancott Estate Living Land Series). You can read more about the Falcon Trust here: www.brancottestate.com/living-land/new-zealand-falcon.

The location highlights the beauty of the iconic Marlborough landscape, and celebrates the home of the original Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc plantings. Their story began in Marlborough, New Zealand with a bold idea to plant the first Sauvignon Blanc vines where no one thought it possible, creating a
world-famous wine region, that has now become one of New Zealand’s biggest tourist attractions.  To find out more about all that Brancott Estate has to offer, head to www.brancottestate.com

Brancott Vineyard

Check out some of the fabulous moments captured throughout my day with Brancott Estate…

Brancott Estate Vineyard

Brancott Estate Vineyard

The Brancott Estate Heritage Centre

The Brancott Estate Heritage Centre

A view from the exterior dining area

A view from the Heritage Centre exterior dining area

A breathtaking view from the Brancott Estate Heritage Centre

A breathtaking view from the Brancott Estate Heritage Centre

Brancott Estate Chief Winemaker - Patrick Materman

Brancott Estate Chief Winemaker – Patrick Materman

Serious stuff this grape harvesting

Serious stuff this grape harvesting

I might be smiling but I really was working!

I might be smiling but I really was working!

L-R: Kylie Robertson (Brancott Estate) and Me.  Look at all that grape harvesting we did!

L-R: Kylie Robertson (Brancott Estate) and Me. Look at all that grape harvesting we did!

The remnants of a hard working harvest team

The remnants of a hard-working harvest team

Fern - one of Brancott Estate's resident falcons

Fern – one of Brancott Estate’s resident falcons

Im basically a bird whisperer now!  Me feeding Fern, one of Brancott Estate's resident falcons

I’m basically a bird whisperer now! Me feeding Fern, one of Brancott Estate’s resident falcons

Taking it all in

Taking it all in

Taking in the amazing views

Taking in the amazing views

Ange xx
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1 Comment

  1. Nicola

    March 16, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Wow how cool! Looks amazing. We’ve got lots of nice vineyards not too far from where I live, a day out at the vineyards is always amazing. Brancott estate looks gorgeous. Will add it to my must visit list for the next South Island trip 🙂

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