Perched high atop a hill ten minutes from Blenheim, the new state-of-the-art Brancott Estate Heritage Centre has become something of a favourite with food and wine lovers since it was officially opened by New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key in October.
Lunching here on a glorious, sun-filled day you feel as though you are floating above the original Marlborough sauvignon blanc vineyard spread out below. Planted in 1975, these are the vines that began the 'savvy' phenomenon that established New Zealand as a world-class wine producer. And after a glass or two it is easy to imagine hang-gliding away over the vineyards that carpet the countryside and all the way to the North Island visible on the horizon.
The restaurant's top-flight menu showcases Marlborough's fresh, locally sourced produce matched to Brancott Estate wines.Two of the dishes I have savoured include Pan-fried Scallops with a Fresh Fennel and Orange Salad on Gourmet Potatoes complemented by Brancott Estate Letter Series Pinot Gris 2010; and Sherrington Goat's Feta, pumpkin and kalamata olive bruschetta matched with Brancott Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
In addition to the impressive indoor/outdoor restaurant the Brancott Heritage Centre also boasts a cellar door, retail displays, wine tasting facilities and a private dining room. The centre also provides visitors with a number of entertaining, educational wine experiences including tutored wine tastings. You can arrive as a wine novice and leave as a wine aficionado! And you will also have the opportunity to enjoy a very special experience — the chance to get up close and personal with the rare and endangered native New Zealand falcon.
And I have observed that every time I've lunched here, the Brancott Heritage Centre has been crowded with visitors enjoying a unique taste of the Marlborough experience.
Photographer: Michael G. Ryan.