Wairau River Wines from Marlborough New Zealand

Wairau River Wines Story

Wairau River Wines, a medium sized family run winery setup by Phil and Chris Rose. Marlborough is a very young wine region with the first vines planted in 1973. Phil and Chris had the vision to plant vines in Marlborough New Zealand in 1978 therefore being early adopters for the region. In the early years they grew and supplied fruit to other wineries in the region. In 1991 this changed when they decided to release wine under their own label thus forming Wairau River wines.

The name 'Wairau River' comes from the fact that this river forms the main valley of the Marlborough wine region namely the Wairau Valley. Today they have grown, as have their family,  they now have 10 estate vineyards all owned and operated by family members. This allows them to control the yield in vineyards and therefore the quality and flavour concentration of the grapes.

Wairau River Wines key Roles

Much has changed over the years as Phil and Chris have handed over key roles to their children. Hamish is the viticulturist, responsible for looking after the vines in all of their vineyards. Sam is the head winemaker, responsible for producing Wairau River quality wines. He works closely with Hamish to ensure the fruit from the vineyards is of the correct quality, in short a great start to making excellent wines..

Wairau River wines cellar door also has a restaurant serving lunches. This is a family run winery therefore Caroline and Tane, her partner, head up this team.

Wine Tastings

Visit the Wairau River Wines Cellar Door during a tour to taste a variety of their wines. Wairau River have two main estate labels. The White label wines are for their estate blends therefore being made in larger volumes. The Black label wines are their premium wines and therefore made in smaller volumes. Wairau River Winery make some unusual wines for the Marlborough wine region. In the white label they have an Albarino, a grape originating from Garcia in North West Spain. In the Black label they make a little of both Syrah and Viognier.

When visiting the Marlborough wine region the Sauvignon Blanc grape variety is a must. 86% of the wine production in Marlborough is Sauvignon Blanc. The next largest variety is Pinot Noir and is currently 6% of Marlborough production. A little know fact is this makes Marlborough the largest producer of Pinot Noir in New Zealand.

At the Wairau River Cellar Door it is usual to get to taste the Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc and the Wairau River Pinot Noir. Therefore, lets look at both of these wines in a little more detail.

Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc

Wairau River make a number of different bottles of Sauvignon Blanc wine. However, on this page we will cover the estate and the reserve in more detail.

Wairau River Estate Sauvignon Blanc

To quote Wairau River Wines website, the 2019 estate Sauvignon Blanc is an elegant wine with intense tropical and stone fruit aromatics with delicate citrus and floral notes, full flavoured and textured. The wine has fine mouthwatering mineral acidity on the finish that refreshes the palate, leaving you longing for more.

Alc: 12.5% RS: 2.9 g/L TA: 6.9 g/L pH: 3.1


New World Wine Awards 2019

Marlborough Wine Show 2019

GOLD NZ Royal Easter Show 2020

Reserve Sauvignon Blanc

This 2019 vintage wine exhibits a mix of power and elegance. Upfront nettles, a touch of minerality combine with blackcurrants and passion fruit notes with a subtle salt character on the palate, therefore, ideal to pair with food.

Alc: 12.5% TA: 6.9g/L pH: 3.19 RS: 1.4g/L

Wairau River Rosé

The 2019 vintage, displaying subtle floral notes combined with lifted aromas of strawberry and raspberry. These characters translate generously to the palate, which is finely balanced by delicate acidity and an off dry finish, consequently ideal to sit out with on a lovely sunny day.

Alc: 12.5% TA: 6.7 g/L pH: 3.34 RS: 5.1 g/L

Recent Accolades

Marlborough Wine Show 2019

New Zealand International
Wine Show 2019

Wairau River Wines Pinot Noir

This winery make a number of Pinot Noir wines and here we give more detail on the estate and reserve wines.

Wairau River Wines Estate Pinot noir

The 2019 vintage exhibits lifted aromas of ripe cherries and spice define this wine. The palate is soft and generous with delicate primary fruit characters of wild berries shadowed by subtle toasty oak. In short ideal to pair with a rich Marlborough Salmon dish.

Alc: 13% TA: 5.7 g/L pH: 3.65 RS: 1.9 g/L

Wairau River Reserve Pinot noir

The 2018 vintage, showing dense cherry, red berry and lifted spice notes.  This is a beautifully structured with fine ripe tannins and delicious smoky oak undertones, as a result, a great choice to accompany red meat.

Alc: 13.5% TA: 5.9g/L pH: 3.81 RS: Dry


GOLD NZ Royal Easter Show 2020

Wairau River Wines Restaurant

Their restaurant opened in 1991, therefore one of the original wine tourist destinations, situated at the junction of Rapaura road and state Highway 6. Set in the beautiful Wairau valley offers both inside and outside seating. The outside seating has a mixture of covered and open seating. The location and aspect is ideal for a wonderful lunch with matching wines if you desire. Therefore, book a table and find out for yourself!

Today the Wairau River wines Cellar Door and Wairau River wines Restaurant are managed and run by eldest daughter Pip Rose. Younger sister Caroline Rose and her partner Tane Malcolm are the head chefs, preparing a simple and delicious menu focusing on fresh, Marlborough ingredients that changes with the seasons. The signature dish would have to be the Double baked blue cheese soufflé, served with green leaf, pear & almond salad. Therefore why not treat yourself? Glutton free is an option for this dish.

To see the current menu visit the Wairau River Wines website here.

The Wairau river wines restaurant has stayed open during the Covid 19 pandemic despite other restaurants closing. Tastings are appointment only (August 2019), however, purchasing wine by the glass or bottle is permitted while dining.

Book a wine tour

In short, to find out more detail on Wairau River Wines visit their official site. To take one of our tours, book a group wine tour or enquire about a private wine tour. Enjoy your Marlborough wine tour or Blenheim wine tour, however, if you need to find out more information please contact us.


Sally, Taegan and Helen having a good laugh during their wine tour at Wairau River cellar door

Sally, Taegan and Helen really enjoying their experience during their tour with Na Clachan wine tours.


Picture of the flowers with our minibus in the background taken during one of our tours


Tom, Sally, Taegan, Helen and Simon tasting the wines during a visit to the cellar door.

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