In 1973, a bunch of adventurous farmers, winemakers and wine-lovers mustered their energies on a cold, windy day in Marlborough and planted thousands of twig-like vines in the hard clay.

They didn't realise they had planted those twigs the wrong way, but once that was remedied, their efforts became the beginning of what is now New Zealand's largest wine region - Marlborough.

Allan Scott was one of those people.

"It was amazing that we succeeded because first we got the vines in the ground the wrong way around, then we flooded them, drowning the vines," he says, cringing at the memory.

"Then, finally, we sort of began to succeed."

Today, Scott and his family run Allan Scott Wines & Estates. The winery has officially been operating since 1990, although its story begins just two years after those first Marlborough vines were planted.

In 1975, when Scott was working as a vineyard manager for Montana, he planted his family's first vineyard, aiming to sell the grapes to other wineries.

It was a successful venture that kept running until 1985, when the family decided to change tack and make their own wines. They've never looked back. Today Allan Scott Winery is one of the most visited in Marlborough. It has a cellar door, open for tasting and buying wine, but it's also a restaurant and a great place to start a history lesson on this extensive wine region; the largest and fastest-growing in the country. Although sauvignon blanc rules in Marlborough, it's by no means the only wine worth trying at Allan Scott Winery, housed on one of Marlborough's golden strips - Jackson's Rd.


Visit Allan Scott Wines and Twelve Trees Restaurant at Jacksons Rd, Blenheim, phone (03) 572 9054,

Others to try nearby:
Hunter's Wines - taste wines, enjoy lunch and experience in-depth insights into the history of Marlborough wine at this, one of the region's oldest wineries. (03) 572 8489,

Cloudy Bay Winery - home to one of the most famous sauvignon blancs in the world and to Pinot at Cloudy Bay - an outstanding annual wine tasting held mid-year. (03) 520 9140,
Nautilus Estate - taste and enjoy good sauvignon blanc and chardonnay and some of Marlborough's most exciting experimental pinot noirs from Nautilus' pinot-dedicated winery. If you strike it lucky, you could even visit the cellar door when single clone pinot noirs are available for tasting and purchase. (03) 572 6008,

Seresin Estate - One of Marlborough's most interesting wineries, owned by cinematographer Michael Seresin, who is swiftly converting to biodynamics and produces super sauvignon blancs, fascinating whites and a range of reds to keep pinotphiles on their toes. (03) 572 9408,
* Montana Wines, Villa Maria Winery and Wither Hills Winery are all large, impressive wineries that are well worth a visit when in the region.