City Guide: Marlborough by Tohu Wines

During the Blood Brother SS17 presentation in an abandoned tube station, the Wonderland team had a little taste of TOHU Wines.

“Quintessentially Kiwi”

Since 1998, Tohu wines have been the world’s first (and most well-known) Māori owned wine company, making their mark on the wine world with their wines produced in New Zealand’s premier grape-growing regions. Based in the gorgeous Awatere Valley in Marolborough their wines are made by head winemaker Bruce Taylor, in their state-of-the-art winery. Taylor, after travelling the world to make wine (dream job) in Australia, Spain and the US, returned to New Zealand and came to Tohu Wines. As one of New Zealand’s most exciting wine-making talents, Taylor creates styles of wine that best reflect the region and the unique characteristics of their vineyard, whilst keeping with traditional Māori values and preserving their culture, which has led them to create an exceptional range of New Zealand wine – and they also produce more aromatic styles for sister brand Aronui Wines.

Tohu Wine’s Bruce Taylor takes us through his home town of Blenheim, in the heart of Marlborough, New Zealand’s wine country.

The Neighbourhood

We live on the outskirts of Blenheim, in the heart of the Marlborough winemaking region and are loving our new house. Lots of families and young people around so a nice, relaxed feel. The coolest thing about where we live is across the road we have a massive council owned farm that is open to the public and full of hiking tracks, a mountain bike park and a river just over the back fence from my house from which we can bike or walk into the town centre in half an hour or so. Uniquely for me too I can drive over a one lane, gravel road (Taylor’s Pass) to my winery in 20 minutes or so. It’s a very rough road with a couple of rivers to ford, no traffic, snow on the top of the pass and maybe the odd sheep to dodge on the way…

For Drinking

A country pub called the Grovetown has become the place to hang out for the winemakers in town. It’s a free house with a huge selection of crafty beers and interesting wines and a Japanese restaurant of all the incongruous things you could find in rural New Zealand. There are a couple of other good bars in town, Scotch in the town centre has a great cocktail and wine selection and DJ’s on the weekends over summer, The Yard Bar is a little more rustic and rough but busy busy Thursdays through Saturday.

For Coffee

BV is a stylish little urban grocer in town who make great flat whites, espressos etc. using beans from my favourite Nelson coffee roaster Sublime who (not coincidentally) we buy beans off for the espresso machine at the winery. CPR are a great local roaster who supply many of the local cafes in town of which Ritual, Figaros and the Burleigh are worth a visit. Its hard to get a bad coffee in NZ these days but if you really try you could probably find one….

For Mussels

Our Kono Greenshell mussels of course which thrive in the Marlborough Sounds and are perfect served with a glass of our Tohu Sauvignon Blanc – heaven!

For Eating

For a small town in NZ, Marlborough is awash in great eating options. In Blenheim itself we have Scotch, Gramado’s, Hotel d’urville and Dodson Street. Gramado’s is a favourite for Brazilian food, d’urville for a great ambience and Dodson Street for an azmazing selection of ever changing crafty beers, perfect pizzas and weird german foods I cant pronounce Out in the country is where our food really comes into its own with Herzog an awesome bistro option at a quirky local winery, Brancott and Highfield for a vista on a summers day and Arbour for a stunning selection of local produce like wild boar, oysters, fresh local fish and seasonal highlights….We are so spoiled here with our fresh, seasonal food; cherries in December, apples in May, Greenshell mussels through summer and amazing Kiwa oysters from the Marlborough Sounds as often as possible!

For Surf

Blenheim sucks for surf (I moved here from Margaret River in Western Australia) but if you can be arsed driving 2 hours down a beautiful coastline you will find Kaikoura, home to right hand point breaks like Maungamanu and Kahutura and some stomping beachbreaks at Meatworks. Be warned though the water is freezing cold even in summer and there is a large seal population…..and great whites love seals almost as much as they love surfers…. And in winter we have the Rainbow ski field just an hour away, surf in summer and skiing in winter, what’s not to love about that!

For Fashion

Bit trickier this one! The best place for fashion in Blenheim would be…..Wellington (a 20 minute flight over Cook Strait…)

For Music

Live music or DJ’s are hard to come by in Blenheim but with a 3 year old not much of an issue for myself. However DJ’s at Scotch and live music at Dodson Street and the Yard Bar are common over our summer…however the really quirky place to hunt down is the Dharma Club; quite a long drive out of town in the countryside but worth it for weirdo alt country, as long as you have a sober driver….

Playlist for the summer:

I love slightly off kilter, bent electronica……I don’t know anyone else in Blenheim that actually likes the music I listen to (apart from my 3 year old who just loves german techno) but if it was up to me, and it is at my house, we will be playing Modeselector, Loco Dice, Boards of Canada, Four Tet, Phon-o, Apparat, Cosmin Trg, Crystal Castles…..with an all time favourite of James Holden. None of these people will ever come to Marlborough unfortunately…..

City Guide: Marlborough by Tohu Wines

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