New Zealand’s Information Network has provided this summary of the main wine growing regions and local vineyard trails as a guide for the visiting wine enthusiast.
For a small country on the Pacific Rim, New Zealand is having a remarkable impact on the world wine scene. Missionaries planted our first vines as early as 1819, but only in the last two decades have we seen this country develop into one of the most consistent fine wine producers in the world. New Zealand has 13,000 hectares planted in vines, and over 480 wine producing companies. The principal white varieties are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Muller Thurgau and Riesling. The main reds are Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Our Sauvignon Blanc is considered by many European wine critics to be the best in the world.
New Zealand’s 15 major wine growing regions fall between the 35th and 45th parallels of latitude, which is comparable with the wine growing areas of Europe. They extend some 1,500 kms from Northland to Central Otago, the southernmost cool-climate region in the world. Each region has its own unique mix of climate, terrain, soils and wine styles. Marlborough, Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne have only one third of the wineries but produce 90% of the national grape harvest. Other regions have many family-owned boutique wineries specialising in top quality individual styles. Vineyards are often clustered together in one area, which means the traveller can enjoy a variety of cellar door sales and tastings.
Touring New Zealand wine regions is a marvellous way to explore the country, meet the Kiwis and experience our way of life. Anyone with a love of fine food and quality wines can take a pleasant gastronomic journey through New Zealand’s heartland. Tasting wines at the vineyard where they have been handcrafted is a unique experience.
All of the regions offer the visitor stunning scenery, recreational activities and fine Pacific Rim cuisine to complement our wines. You will find that the vineyards have lots of rustic charm, and great hospitality. So here’s to your personal voyage of discovery through New Zealand’s wine regions.