Nelson is a sunny wee spot. The almost-2500-sunshine-hours-annually kind of sunny. That’s 300 more than Melbourne, and 165 more than Sydney. If you’re now picturing yourself sitting in the sun with a glass of wine, you’re not alone. For those already dreaming of a trip to Nelson, we asked Neudorf Vineyards’ Todd Stevens for his take on wine, work and life in the suntrap of New Zealand’s South Island.
Savoury, floral… David Bowie
What’s Nelson’s Pinot Personality? According to Todd, it’s David Bowie. “We’ve got our own vibe and our own sound. We’re not the loudest kid in the room but we’ve usually got something to say.”
Noting that the signature flavour of the region is a ‘savoury floral’, Todd reminds us that Nelson is a tiny but mighty area, made up of an eclectic bunch of producers, many of whom take their cue from the land.
“The region, in terms of rocket science, isn’t different to any other region,” he says. “I suppose we’re pioneering some of the newer varieties, particularly Albariño, but there is such a small winemaking community here, you have to experiment a little bit to move forward.”
Wining and dining (and beering and cidering)
So where does one soak up the sun (and the wine), in Nelson? According to Todd, consistent quality can be found at Greenhough (‘they’ve been doing it for 25 years’), Brightwater and the aptly named Middle Earth Wines.
Visitors wanting to experience Nelson like a local should train accordingly – in addition to the award-winning wines, it’s home to plenty of breweries, and the cider is pretty good too, according to Todd.
For those non-boozy times, a trip to Abel Tasman National Park is perfect for a walk and a picnic (which may or may not be accompanied by wine) and if you’re after a tasty bite or two, Todd recommends Cod and Lobster or Urban Eatery. For a casual but delicious meal with a view that’s second to none, he suggests the Boat Shed Cafe on the foreshore, which stretches out onto the estuary.