In the early 1970s, Blenheim was a fairly sleepy service town set amid pastoral land: now it is a fairly sleepy service town completely surrounded by some of the most fecund and highly regarded vineyards in the land – the Marlborough wine country. In the intervening years Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has helped put the New Zealand wine industry on the world map, and increased plantings have now edged the region ahead of Hawke's Bay as the country's largest producing region with over fifty percent of the national grape crop.
Many wineries go all out to attract visitors using distinctive architecture, classy restaurants, art and gourmet foodstuffs. The profusion of weekend visitors from Nelson, Wellington and further afield has spawned a number of smart B&Bs throughout the district, trying to out-luxury one another. If this is what you're after there's little need to bother with Blenheim itself, particularly since most of the vineyards are closer to the small, unremarkable town of Renwick, 10km to the west.