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The Moutere Hills Wineries

Most of Nelson's 25 wineries are scattered along the rolling Moutere Hills and the alluvial Waimea Plains. The wines - Riesling, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, Gewürztraminer, cabernet franc, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and pinot noir - have intense fruit flavors, good acidic balance, and weight. Many wineries have tasting rooms and restaurants. For more on Nelson wineries, tap into the Nelson Winemakers Association website at www.nelsonwines.co.nz, or www.eatdrinknelson.co.nz.

The visitor center has a leaflet and a very clear map pinpointing the best of the area's wineries, or you can take a wine tour with JJ's Quality Tours, 31A Stansell Ave., Nelson (tel. 0800/229-868 in NZ, or tel./fax 03/546-5470; www.jjstours.co.nz). Prices start at NZ$89 for a half-day tour. JJ's also offers a tour of local breweries, or a mix of breweries and wineries. For a similar price (NZ$97), Bay Tours, Nelson (tel. 0800/229-868 in NZ, or 03/548-6486; www.baytoursnelson.co.nz), also offers an excellent range of gourmet wine tours that include either food or art stops. If you're short on time, hotfoot it straight to the Regional Wine Centre, 67 Aranui Rd., Mapua (tel. 03/540-2526; fax 03/540-2561), which features a showing of the region's best wines, olive oils, beers, and gourmet foods. It includes a wine and taste center, a cafe, and a restaurant. Or, in Nelson City itself, Casa del Vino, 214 Hardy St. (tel. 03/548-0088; www.casadelvino.co.nz), stocks a huge range of Nelson and New Zealand wines and holds regular wine tastings in summer. You can also pick up wine maps of the region here and take advantage of the worldwide shipping service. They're open Monday to Thursday 10am to 6:30pm and Friday and Saturday 10am to 7:30pm, except in December and January, when they're only open on Sundays 10am to 3pm.

One of the best-known producers is Neudorf Vineyards, 138 Neudorf Rd., Upper Moutere (tel. 03/543-2643; www.neudorf.co.nz). Set in a picturesque vineyard, the winery offers prearranged tastings of its prizewinning chardonnay, Riesling, pinot noir, and sauvignon blanc. It's open Monday through Friday from 10am to 5pm all year and also weekends from October through April. Seifried Estate Vineyard and Restaurant, Main Road, Appleby, Richmond (tel. 03/544-1555; www.seifried.co.nz), has a large restaurant and tasting room, open daily from 10am to 5pm. A winery tour and tasting is NZ$12 per person, by appointment, Monday through Saturday. Dinner is available in the restaurant Friday and Saturday evenings from 6pm; reservations are recommended.

Moutere Hills Vineyard, Eggers Road, Upper Moutere (tel./fax 03/543-2288; www.mouterehills.co.nz), serves beautifully presented light meals in its converted-wool-shed winery, along with Riesling, sauvignon blanc, and chardonnay. It's open October 24 to Easter, Tuesday through Sunday, from 11am to 6pm.

Waimea Estates, 22 Appleby Hwy., Hope (tel. 03/544-4963; www.waimeaestates.co.nz), produces all the main wine types, and their cafe and cellar door are open in summer daily 11am to 5pm; in winter, Wednesday to Sunday until 4pm. Woollaston Estates, School Road, Mahana (tel. 03/543-2817; www.woollaston.co.nz), has a fabulous underground complex complete with a contemporary art gallery. They offer wine tasting and live music on the first Sunday of each month in summer. They're open daily, 11am until 4:30pm from mid-October through April. Ruby Bay Vineyard, 271 Pomona Rd., Ruby Bay (tel. 03/540-3938; www.rubybayvineyard.co.nz), has a luxurious lodge and cottage for rent, and is open for wine tasting and sales from Thursday through Monday 11am to 4pm (reduced winter hours, or by appointment).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.