John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722),
painted by Adriaen van der Werff
Kings, queens and politicians all have places in the “New World” named after them and the stories and histories behind those would be enough to fill a small book. But this is a story about wine and war and there are plenty of generals and famous battles to which vineyards owe their name.
Australia’s Barossa Valley was named after an obscure (if victorious) battle in the Peninsular War and New Zealand’s most famous vineyard region was also named in honour of a general and the victory he won on the other side of the world - the northern tip of South Island and the southern tip of North Island are full of military-themed towns. Wellington on the end of North Island needs little introduction and across Cook Strait (Captain James Cook) on South Island is the town of Picton, general Thomas Picton being a divisional commander of Wellington’s who was killed at Waterloo. Meanwhile, there is the town of Nelson to the west (no prizes for guessing who he is). However, the town and region that should excite our interest is that of Blenheim and Marlborough.