About Us

The Escape to Marlborough Tours offers a personalised, semi-exclusive and highly enjoyable travel experience throughout New Zealand's Largest and most successful wine region.

Escape to Marlborough was founded by Juliearna Kavanagh and Warren Lewis. Their passion for the area and love of Marlborough wines, boutique beer & gourmet food is long standing. The couple wanted to bring a smaller style of wine tour to Marlborough, one that caters to the whole region that provides a personalised and all encompassing experience of the area and concentrating on no more than three couple’s wishes at a time.

Juliearna Kavanagh is a business entrepreneur from Southland, New Zealand and has been running her own businesses since the age of 18. She has worked in all areas of hospitality from one the youngest Nightclub owner in Australasia to Executive Chef and Hotelier. She has also been involved in recruitment and training throughout her 32 year career in hospitality.

Juliearna has always had a love of transforming and redeveloping businesses. Her most famous business was a hotel, restaurant and bar called Kavanagh House, just outside Winchester, Timaru which she transformed from a derelict building in 1994 to a thriving business, securing her a finalist’s place in the HANZ (Hospitality Association of New Zealand) 1999 Best Redeveloped Hotel, Bar and Restaurant in New Zealand Award.

Escape to Picton (www.escapetopicton.com) is another one of Juliearna’s transformations from a run-down building to a beautiful boutique hotel in Picton, the picturesque seaside town in Marlborough. Escape to Picton Won the 2009 HANZ (Hospitality Associations New Zealand) Best New / Re-developed Accommodation Hotel a very prestigious award for this stunning Boutique Hotel. Escape to Picton was a finalist for in 2010 for Best Restaurant and was in the top three in New Zealand.

These accolades and Juliearna’s 30 years of experience has made her into not only a phenomenal hotelier but has also helped to incorporate her love of good wines, gourmet food and great love of fresh produce into a great and personalised experience in the tours.

Warren Lewis has lived and owned businesses in Picton for more than 30 years. He has extensive knowledge of Marlborough region and the Marlborough Sounds. Warren holds a multitude of licences and is an extremely experienced driver, having driven big rigs in Australia and New Zealand. In the early 1980’s he raced saloon cars at Woodford Glen Christchurch. His hobbies include Classic Cars, Trail Bikes and Fishing, the typical kiwi bloke!

Warren has also worked the vintage also known as the harvest of the year so he has an in-depth understanding of the wine harvest and a good relationship with the wineries. This first hand knowledge as well as Juliearna’s knowledge of gourmet food and good wines makes this a great team for the tours.