There is a lot of branding here so there is no mistaking about where you are regardless of how much wine you've been tasting! From the entrance, to the deck chairs, the parasols, the staff aprons, the mirrors and even the paper coasters slipped onto the stem of your glass to indicate which wine your tasting - welcome to Cloudy Bay. You can purchase lots of merchandise too...we stretched to a postcard.
The arrangements for the tastings are probably dictated by the sheer volume of visitors and when we got to the counter we just selected which of the three options we wanted. In our case my wife wanted to just try the Sauvignon Blancs so had the "S/B Immersion" ($15) - S/B 2019, S/B 2006 & Te Koko S/B 2015. I had the "Experience" ($10) which consisted of the Pelorus NV, the S/B 2019, Chardonnay 2017 and the Pinot Noir 2017.
We were then provided with a sheet with brief notes on each wine and not to miss an opportunity an order form on the reverse! We got our first glass, with the paper coaster to identify the wine and were invited to wander into the garden or take a seat in the tasting room to enjoy. This of course cleared the way for their next guest. Some may think it lacks the detailed discussion however we were quite happy to just enjoy the wine.
The whole place is finished to a high standard and the grounds well maintained. You need to walk over towards the boundary with the vines to appreciate the setting - the mountain backdrop just like the bottle label.
Sitting at a picnic bench trying the wines was very pleasant in the sunshine and it got us off our bikes for a bit longer. (There are bike stands at the front of the building). We had lunch earlier so made do with the odd plain cracker which were placed on the bar. There are light bites to purchase if required. My wife surprised me by checking on the background music being played in the tasting room as she was enjoying listening to it - Chet Baker, the jazz musician. Jazz? She'd obviously had too much to drink ;-)
On departure we purchased a bottle of our preferred choice - the 2019 Sauvignon Blanc - and received a $5 discount off the $33.90 cost in view of having paid $25 for the tastings.
We were last here years ago when we dropped in for a pre-flight tasting instead of hanging around Blenheim Airport in the lounge. At that time we'd began to believe Cloudy Bay was over-hyped but had been surprised about how much we had enjoyed the tasting and our faith had been restored. This time around we still enjoyed the experience but exited to board our e-bikes instead.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
We visited in March 2020, pre Covid-19 lockdown.