One winery is seeking inspiration from the man who landscaped Hobbiton, at least three are opening new or refurbished tasting rooms and another is renovating a restaurant. It’s all part of a plan to lure tourists to New Zealand’s premier wine region.

Vignerons in the Marlborough region are on a building spree, adding infrastructure to help them leverage off record tourist arrivals. The aim is to turn winery visitors into life-long advocates of Kiwi vino. Almost 612,000 foreigners visited New Zealand vineyards in the year through June, 11 percent more than a year earlier, and government figures show that wine buffs typically stay in the country longer and spend more.

“What’s being offered by the vineyards has got slicker—the whole experience has got better,” said Philip Green, owner of Appellation Central Wine Tours in Queenstown, a city famous for its adventure sports that’s also a gateway to the nation’s southernmost wineries. “There has been an increasing awareness of New Zealand as a wine and food destination.”

While the focus will help wine exports reach a NZ$2 billion ($1.5 billion) target by 2020 from NZ$1.57 billion in the year ended June, it may also be another fillip for tourism, which overtook dairy last year as New Zealand’s biggest export industry.

New Zealand wine is among the most expensive in many overseas markets in terms of average price per bottle, which suggests those who drink it can also afford to be potential visitors, said Chris Yorke, global marketing director of New Zealand Winegrowers. The industry body announced last week that it’s compiling a database of wineries catering to tourists, supported by funding from Auckland International Airport Ltd.

Marlborough has 141 wineries, of which at least 35 have wine-tasting rooms, known locally as “cellar doors,” that allow customers to sample and buy their produce.

“We are seeing a new generation of visitors who are looking for a differentiated and unique winery experience,” said Mario Dussurget, hospitality manager at Cloudy Bay, the winery that was bought in 2003 by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE, the world’s biggest luxury-goods maker. “They have been to Bordeaux, maybe Napa, the Barossa Valley, and they want something unique from Cloudy Bay and New Zealand.”

Sauvignon Blanc

The 31-year-old winery, whose Sauvignon Blanc is one of New Zealand’s most iconic wines, offers tastings alongside plates of local cheeses and oysters, plus lodge-style accommodation. “People come here having tried the wine abroad and want to see where it is made,” Dussurget said in an e-mail.

Less than a mile away, Jackson Estate has hired Brian Massey, who was greensmaster for the “Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy and helped to design the Hobbiton set that is now a tourist destination in its own right. He’s advising on landscaping around the winery and cellar door it’s building—the eighth new venue to open for Marlborough visitors in two years.

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