Queenstown has been drawing wine connoisseurs from the world over for decades. In the last few years, dozens of boutique wineries have sprouted up all over the region, offering varietals and tastes to suit every palette.
Now regarded as one of New Zealand’s premier wine regions, the Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago wine regions are rich with all the natural features that make for beautiful wines. From rolling mountains and lush valleys to arid deserts and freshwater lakes, the area’s diverse landscape makes it a natural wonder for growing the tastiest, world-renowned grapes. Visiting the region’s wineries is now considered one of the best things to do in Queenstown and there are plenty of wine tours in Queenstown to choose from.
Here, I’ve rounded up a list of my favorite wineries in Queenstown, complete with wine recommendations, must-tries, and tips to maximize your experience.
Without further ado, here are the 10 best wineries in Queenstown!
10 Best Wineries in Queenstown
1. Gibbston Valley Winery
It would be impossible to talk about Queenstown’s vibrant wine culture without mentioning the infamous Gibbston Valley Winery.
Located on the scenic outskirts of Queenstown in the heart of the Gibbston Valley Wine Region, Gibbston Valley Winery offers thirsty visitors a full-scale winery, tasting room, cheesery, and restaurant. And if it’s a view you’re after, this winery does not disappoint! You’ll be greeted by a tremendous display of rocky mountains that jut up into the sky, flanked by rolling hills of lush vineyards stretching far into the distance. Visiting is such a romantic thing to do in Queenstown and perfect for anybody on their honeymoon.
It really is a stunning sight in any season. It’s no wonder folks have been drawn here since 1990! And its decades of winemaking make this Central Otago’s founding winery.
As for the wines themselves? With a wide range of handcrafted selections on offer, there’s something to suit everyone’s palette – from buttery chardonnays to earthy pinot noirs. Tastings at the Cellar Door start at just $20 NZD, complete with the musings of Gibbston’s knowledgeable staff. They’ll tell you all about the winemaking process, tasting notes, the winery’s history, and other local anecdotes about the region. Y
The step up from the basic cellar door tour is this wine & cheese sample tour where you will learn and sample both wine and cheese.
For a more in-depth tour, this 45-minute guided tour is perfect. Or, if you need transport this tour includes a ride to and from Queenstown and you will also get to bike the Queenstown River Trail to explore other wineries in the Central Otago region.
The Cellar Door is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
When you visit, be sure to give their crisp, refreshing Gewürztraminer a try – as a wine that showcases all the best aspects of the region’s climate, it’s a personal favorite!
There’s even a wide selection of tasty food on offer at their winery restaurant, cheesery and deli, and Fumé (the wood-fired kitchen.) And if you’re feeling like a nightcap after your culinary experience, book in at the luxury lodge and spa.
Another perk: Gibbston Valley Winery hosts an annual summer concert series, with past appearances by bands like Supertramp, Jefferson Starship, Dragon, Crowded House, and many more!
Related Read: Gibbston Valley Winery is one of the best stops on the drive from Queenstown to Cromwell – find out what the others are!
2. Mt Rosa
Another Gibbston Valley favorite for almost twenty years, Mt Rosa is a gem nestled right in the heart of New Zealand’s Southern Alps.
With five varieties of grapes growing in their vineyard, you can try them all in their well-appointed Cellar Door and tasting room, open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m (closes at 1 pm on Tuesday). Tastings are $15 NZD, and you can even accompany them with some local cheeses, cured meats, and other culinary delights from Mt Rosa’s tasting room menu.
Be sure to enjoy a taste of the lush Pinot Noir that they’ve become so well known for – a must-try if you’re headed to Mt Rosa. The bramble, blackcurrant, and spice notes will tantalize even the pickiest of palettes.
Overall, Mt Rosa offers a great balance of superb wines, gorgeous views, fantastic food, and a laid-back atmosphere, compromising Central Otago’s sophisticated wine culture. After a few here, you’ll be ready to head back and check out the best restaurants in Queenstown to soak up some of the wine!
Well known for its charming vineyard accommodation and quaint restaurant, Kinross Winery offers an ideal mix of comfort and boutique feel.
Kinross’s Cellar Door and tasting room pride itself on showcasing a selection of Central Otago wines complete with tales of the region, the winemaking process, and other tidbits to provide visitors with a top-shelf experience every time. In fact, there are 5 different wineries that use Kinross as their cellar door so you get to taste a huge variety in one place!
Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you can make an appearance at any time of day to have a great culinary experience. And if you’d like to stay in the area for an extended period, check out the Kinross Cottages. There are 14 cottages on the property, each offering cascading views of the mountains and surrounding vineyards it’s the perfect place for a romantic getaway in NZ!
The cozy cottages are where comfort, beauty, and privacy meet. Sleep amongst the vines in these well-appointed and stylish little buildings scattered throughout the grounds.
Taste a selection of 5 wines for just $15 NZD, and cap off your evening with comfy cottage accommodation starting at $266 NZD. Take note: advanced bookings are required for both. If you’re driving from Queenstown to Te Anau or Queenstown to Mount Cook this is an ideal stop (so long as you have a designated driver of course!)
The family-owned estate at Akarua was established in 1996 and has been a thriving staple of the Central Otago wine region for decades.
The label has beautifully harnessed a remarkable phenomenon, whereby the region’s arid mountain landscape drives hearty Pinot Noir vines to fruit by way of their silent struggle with the elements.
When you visit Akarua’s stunning grounds in Cromwell or at Akarua Wines & Kitchen by Artisan in Lake Hayes be sure to try The Siren, a distinctive Pinot Noir offered in various vintages. Each year’s harvest boasts slightly different characteristics and tasting notes. No matter which one you try, taste it carefully; as you swish it around in your mouth, take note of how the rich mouthfeel conveys the character of the very earth from which its grapes were harvested.
Tastings at the vineyard’s cellar door in Cromwell are by request only between Monday to Friday, 10.30 am – 4 pm.
And if you’re feeling peckish, visit Akarua’s well-appointed kitchen overlooking a lush garden, all just 15 minutes from Queenstown Central in Lake Hayes. You can visit anytime between 9 am – 5 pm, however, the cellar door is only open for tastings between 11 am to 5 pm and you must book in advance. While there, consider walking the Lake Hayes Loop (one of the best easy hikes in Queenstown.)
Insider’s Tip: Visit in autumn for one of the world’s most colorful fall foliage views. Because there’s nothing quite like a palette of vibrant autumn colors to accompany your wine!
5. Waitiri Creek Wines
Take a step back in time when you visit Waitiri Creek Wines, situated in a beautifully restored church from 1894. One might say that this winery takes the presumption out of the wine tasting experience, with family and dog-friendly grounds that welcome visitors of all shapes, sizes, and ages – not just experienced wine connoisseurs.
Part of the Glengarry family of wineries, Waitiri Creek has 6 varietals on offer, including a range of Pinot Noirs, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, and Rose. With a wide range to choose from, there’s truly something for everyone. Try pairing your tasting with light fare and tasting platters to satisfy the epicurean in any group. And don’t miss out on the buttery Chardonnay, a staple of their wine list since it was first produced in 1998.
Another bonus to Waitiri Creek is the adjoining brewery. Yep, that’s right even beer lovers will love this winery! The Cargo Brewery is one of the best places to drink craft beer in Queenstown and they even offer mixed tastings.
Related Read: Visiting wineries is also one of the best things to do in Blenheim, New Zealand – a must-visit town for wine lovers!
6. Amisfield Restaurant & Cellar Door
Cheers to the first organic winery on our list!
Amisfield is, in many ways, the crown jewel of Central Otago’s vibrant wine culture. They take their time with making wines that are “hands-off” (according to their winemaker, Greg Lane) or fiddled with as little as possible along the winemaking journey.
At Amisfield, their mantra is all about keeping it organic from harvest to bottle. And it’s less about what they do, and more of what they don’t.
Keeping it real means you’ll taste the land in every glass – including all the schist and earth’s minerals of the 2-million-year-old mountains of the region. Best known for its distinctive Pinot Noir, it’s one not to miss at Amisfield.
Tasting is $15 NZD per person for up to five wines and a menu of small plate dishes from the restaurant can accompany or follow your tasting. Visit their tasting room in Lake Hayes is open Wednesday to Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. Groups of 7 or more will require an online reservation.
Related Read: Traveling to Wanaka? Include Amisfield as one of your stops between Queenstown and Wanaka.
7. Wet Jacket Wines Cellar Door & Gourmet Deli
Set amidst the Bendemeer Woolshed, Wet Jacket’s location alone offers a rich history that complements its luscious wines. A nod to Central Otago’s farming history, the Woolshed offers a vintage vibe that marries old and new.
Pair this with their Cellar Door and their fully stocked, on-site gourmet deli and you can truly “have your cake and eat it, too” – except by cake, I mean artisanal cheeses and cured charcuterie meats.
As for the wines themselves, their selections do not disappoint. An impressive range of reds and whites will suit even the pickiest of palettes, and there’s a generous gradient of sweet to dry.
My personal favorite: the 2018 Chardonnay, which was given 5 stars by Dish Magazine. Try it with some smoked brie, French pâté, or venison salami. There’s even a selection of Mediterranean foods on offer in the Wet Jacket deli, which is open daily from 11 am to 6 pm.
Have a tasting at the Wet Jacket Cellar Door is currently available by appointment only. So make sure to contact them in advance to secure your spot.
You can actually reach this winery by public bus so you can enjoy a few extra glasses if you wish!
Related Read: Wet Jacket is listed on my best things to do in Arrowtown blog because of its close proximity.
8. Chard Farm
It would be hard to make mention of Chard Farm Winery without first drawing attention to the scenic drive that greets you when you arrive at its gate. This alone is an iconic feature of the winery – and separates the serious venturers apart from the casual stumblers-upon.
Once you meander down a gravel road through the Gibbston Valley and over the turquoise greatness of the rushing Kawarau River, you’ll be met with the rolling hills of Chard Farm. And its impressive views are sure to stun visitors from Queenstown at any time of year.
From Pinot Noir to Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling to Rosé, there’s quite a generous range of wines to delight in at Chard Farm. Try the Gewurztraminer – it’s jam-packed full of fruity flavors and crisp citrus notes that are sure to make your mouth water.
Open 7 days a week, the cellar door offers tastings from 10 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday and 11 am to 5 pm on weekends.
9. Peregrine Wines
From Tuesday to Saturday, stroll on into the cellar door at Peregrine Winery, a place where majestic landscape meets tasty wine.
And if you’re not sufficiently impressed by the wine list, take a gander at the impressive architecture. Peregrine is more than just a name – the entire award-winning facility is designed to mimic a falcon’s wing in flight, making for an elegant, upscale experience from the moment you walk inside.
Since 1998, this family-owned winery has been making organically farmed vino, ranging from sweet Rieslings to oaky Pinot Noir. I absolutely love their Rosé, which has an off-dry pleasantry finished with notes of berry and ripe fruit. Yum!
If ethically grown wines are your thing, you’ll be pleased to know that this winery is also conservation-minded. A portion of the proceeds from every bottle goes toward helping to protect some of New Zealand’s rarest native birds – which only further solidifies the notion that Peregrine is more than just their name.
Visit Peregrine’s stunning cellar door from 11 am to 5 pm Monday to Saturday to sample a fine mix of wine, architecture, and spectacular Gibbston Valley scenery.
10. Rippon Winery
A near and dear personal favorite, Rippon Winery is perched right on Lake Wanaka’s stunning waterfront. And if the backdrop’s not enough to blow you away, you’ll absolutely love their tasty wine selections.
What makes Rippon so special is that they are the only vineyard in the world to grow Osteiner, a variety born of Riesling and Sylvaner – and since they’ve got precisely 5 hectares of it, you’ll feel uber special to be sipping on a wine that’s incredibly rare and sought after.
Harnessing the high ultraviolet, sunny continental climate of Central Otago, the wines capture the essence of a truly unique landscape. Sip on one of Rippon’s signature ‘mature vine’ Pinot Noirs – a series of limited releases that have earned themselves accolades throughout the region. The “Tinker’s Bequest” is my personal favorite! Without a doubt, visiting Rippon is one of the best things to do in Wanaka!
Free appointments and tastings are available to book from Thursday to Sunday from 12 pm to 5 pm to experience an array of sensory delights at Rippon Winery.
Related Read: Want to visit the best wineries in Queenstown with a designated driver? Read my blog about all of the best wine tours in Queenstown so you can choose a tour that you’ll love.
Where to Stay in Queenstown’s Wine Regions
If you truly love wine then why not stay amongst the vines? Seriously, who wouldn’t want to be within stumbling distance from their favorite winery?! Below are some of the best places to stay in each of the wine regions that are closest to Queenstown.
Within the Gibbston Valley, there are a ton of beautiful places to stay only minutes, and sometimes seconds, from cellar doors.
Gibbston Valley Lodge and Spa – This beautiful lodge is located at the Gibbston Valley Winery. The property is gorgeous and located near bike trails and other wineries.
Judge & Jury Farm Retreat – Looking for a holiday home for a larger group? This place is perfect and located in the heart of the Gibbston Valley. Enjoy magnificent farm views in a brand new cottage home!
Kinross Cottages Boutique Vineyard Hotel – This is my top choice in the Gibbston Valley. Located at Kinross cellar door you’ll have access to 5 different wineries from one place. The cottages are stunning and the location couldn’t be better!
Overlooking the beautiful Lake Hayes you can stay in some pretty spectacular places only a stone’s throw from some wineries on this list and others in the area.
Stoneridge Estate – This stunning hotel is actually located at the Stoneridge Estate Winery. Not only are you close to other wineries on this list but you’ll also be staying at one! This hotel is pure luxury and they even have a pool overlooking Lake Hayes!
The Shan’s Lodge – If you’re on a budget or just want more money to spend on wine then The Shan’s Lodge is a perfect choice. Surrounded by wineries in Lake Hayes this lodge is a beautiful family-run establishment with amazing reviews.
Must-Do Activities While in Queenstown
While in Queenstown there are plenty of other activities that will keep you busy… Honestly, there are so many it’ll be hard to choose which ones to do! Below are some of my favorites.
- Queenstown Lakes Lord of the Rings Tour – This tour is fun for both major LOTR fans and those who have some level of interest in seeing and learning about the filming locations. You will be guided around in a 4×4 vehicle that is equipped to cross rivers and rugged terrain. There are 8 different stops over 9 hours, it’s a long day but it will be filled with so many breathtaking views and you’ll learn a ton from your guide.
- TSS Earnslaw Steamship Cruise – This scenic and relaxing cruise in Queenstown is an activity great for any afternoon. The ship you will be cruising on is the Historic TSS Earnslaw and you will get to watch crew members add coal to the flames that power the vessel. Take in the mountain ranges and lush green valleys of Otago. You can also upgrade this tour here to include dinner at Walter Peak High Country Farm.
- Queenstown Canyoning Adventure – Climb and jump off waterfalls, rappel, swim, and trek your way down a part of a Queenstown canyon with a qualified guide. This thrilling full-day activity is perfect for those who love adventure and exploration! As long as you aren’t afraid of heights and have a basic swimming ability you won’t need any other skills.
- Day Trip to Milford Sound With Picnic Lunch – This tour will give you the ultimate ability to explore the beauty of Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park. Not only will your guide stop at several impressive viewpoints on the way from Queenstown but there is also a cruise in Milford Sound included. This small-group tour goes for $249 NZD a person and I think it’s a really great value for a more personalized experience.
- Extreme Jet Boating – Looking for a thrill? Jet Boating is one of New Zealand’s most unique activities. On the tour out of Queenstown, you’ll be able to zoom up the Shotover River through narrow canyons at high speeds and make 360-degree spins. Trust, me it’s epic!
Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand
Let’s face it, you’re going to need wheels to get around New Zealand. Although a small country, buses between destinations are infrequent and expensive. Plus, some of the best experiences you can have in NZ are on road trips!
You have three options when it comes to getting wheels in New Zealand; a car, a campervan, or a motorhome. Here’s what you need to know about each and where to get them:
- Car – A normal car is the cheapest rental vehicle you can get in New Zealand. It’ll get you around to all of the best destinations with ease. The only downside to a car is that you will need to stay in hotels or Airbnbs during your travels (no camping.) The easiest place to rent a car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare cars, companies, prices, features, and more very easily.
- Campervan – A Campervan is a large van that has a bed and a small kitchen in the back. It is what most budget backpackers get for traveling around New Zealand since it allows you to camp comfortably and for free (most) nights. Campervans are best for couples or solo travelers who are happy to live in a small space. You should also love the outdoors and camping! You can easily compare campervans, prices, and book on the website Motorhome Republic. We also have a 5% discount code (QUEEN5) with Mad Campers, which you can use at checkout.
- Motorhome – A motorhome is larger and more comfortable than a campervan. Many motorhomes will comfortably sleep 6 or more people – perfect for a family visiting New Zealand. Motorhomes are the most expensive option, but with one, you won’t ever need to stay in a hotel and you’ll save money that way. Motorhome Republic is my suggested website for booking a motorhome in New Zealand simply because they are a reliable company and the website is super easy to use! We are also partnered with Kiwi Motorhomes, which is well known as the top motorhome rental company in New Zealand. You can get 5% off using the code Queen5. For more detailed info, read my complete guide to renting a motorhome in New Zealand!
Travel Insurance Has Your Back!
Life can be unpredictable and when you’re traveling abroad the last thing you want to worry about is getting sick or injured and having to pay out of pocket for treatment.
If this concerns you, SafetyWing can help! SafetyWing specializes in very affordable and comprehensive medical and travel insurance that is aimed at digital nomads, remote workers, and long-term travelers. It costs just $45 USD per 4 weeks!
To start coverage you must purchase it after leaving your home country, so we usually purchase it as soon as we land in the airport.
Since using SafetyWing we’ve been reimbursed thousands of dollars when we’ve gotten sick. During the pandemic, they’ve even gone as far as to pay for our last-minute flights back to Canada before the border closed!
Thanks for reading!
Whether you’re a casual wine enthusiast or a serious oenophile, there’s no shortage of quality wineries to choose from in Queenstown. I hope this list of the 10 best wineries in Queenstown helps you to have your most delicious New Zealand experience.
Thanks so much for reading! Let’s hope you’re now ready to explore Queenstown’s wineries! If you are, be sure to browse around some more, you are sure to find another blog you’ll love about Queenstown or New Zealand! I’ve also included some of my most popular posts below: