One of the (many) perks of attending a new car launch is often the stunning accommodation that we stay in. So when Czech car brand Skoda invited us to Queenstown for a first drive of their all-new, all-electric Enyaq, we knew we were in for something extra special – both car and hotel!
I won’t go on too much about the electric SUV itself as our initial driving impressions are already on here and we’re getting some ’alone time’ with it over Easter (sounds eggscellent), but all you need to know right now is that the Enyaq has tons of range and personality and warrants its premium price tag.
Anyway, with the driving portion over, we arrived at the Gibbston Valley resort and winery, where we would spend the night relaxing and whetting our whistles – lovely.
Set on 1000 acres of privately-owned land, Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa features 24 beautiful villas overlooking the historic Le Maitre vineyard block. It also comes with a large central Lodge building for fine dining and intimate wine experiences, a spa and health centre, and a range of ‘other’ premium onsite activities, which they are continually expanding.
To get the wine part out of the way, Gibbston Valley Winery founder, Alan Brady, planted his first vines in Gibbston in the early 1980s, however, at 45 degrees south of the equator, his vines were right on the knife-edge of possibility for grape cultivation, meaning that many thought that it was too cold for grapes. But Brady had a hunch, and as it turned out, Brady was right.
Alan planted Gibbston Valley’s first commercial vineyard, Home Block, in 1983 and released Central Otago’s first commercial vintage in 1987. The wine gained considerable recognition, creating Central Otago’s first footprint in the world of winemaking.
In 1990, Alan established Gibbston Valley Wines as a new boutique winery that featured a tasting room and gourmet lunch restaurant (Today, the restaurant is recognised as one of the top places to eat in Queenstown).
By 1995, storage space for the numerous oak barrels used to mature wine was becoming a problem. The barrels require a very controlled environment with constant temperature and humidity. The obvious choice was to build a barrel storage facility, but Alan had something different in mind. He decided to blast a 1400 cubic metre cave into the schist mountain which provides the backdrop for the winery. This was the first in the region and continues to be the largest Wine Cave in New Zealand.
While a popular attraction for tourists and locals in Queenstown, the cave is an important part of the winery. It provides the perfect environment for ageing barrels of wine without requiring any artificial temperature or humidity control.
The cave is home to more than 400 barrels of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that line its rocky schist wall interior. It’s also a fantastic place for visitors to taste and experience our wines on one of their Cave and Winery Tours.
Extending the winery experience into accommodation, the Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa opened its doors in December 2019 and that’s basically where we spent our time.
As stated before, the resort has 24 premium villas that feature an immaculately appointed interior, a secluded courtyard for soaking up the glorious Central Otago sun, and a covered deck.
Even the walk to your villa is impressive with the mountain backdrop and ample foliage to give a sense of individuality. Entry to the unit opens to a large lounge, with big TV, soft couch and a sink/wine fridge station. On one side are the double doors that open to the aforementioned courtyard, (and all the fresh Otago air it provides), while the opposite side has sliding doors that separate the bedroom, (with ensuite bathroom) from the lounge.
The bathroom itself features a double sink, bath and huge shower with (as I’d hoped) a monsoon shower head.
Once showered and changed, it was time to eat.
For dinner we headed to the main lodge and its exclusive dining area below the main reception. The Chef had organised a sumptuous menu with much of the produce grown in his own garden.
The ratatouille, cod and a super sweet dessert were all complimented with the estate’s choice of wines (no driving for us the next day)
Sleep came quickly that night (once I’d got rid of the additional cushions) on a bed so large that I think I lay diagonally across.
Breakfast was held back at the main lodge again, with eggs-benedict with salmon being my choice, followed by a couple of coffees – flat white of course.
The Gibbston Valley Resort is a place of tranquility with a backdrop that only Queenstown can provide. I highly recommend you check it out, and take the new Skoda Enyaq to get there – of course.