New Zealand | Nelson

View over Neudorf Vineyards in Nelson, New Zealand

Established in 1841, the historic town of Nelson sits on the edge of Tasman Bay at the northern end of New Zealand's South Island. Surrounded on three sides by mountains, it enjoys a unique mesoclimate that is perfect for the production of aromatic grape varieties.

Although this is a small, little known wine region, wines made from Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer are considered to be some of the best in New Zealand. Along with the aromatic varieties, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are also widely planted in the Nelson wine region, producing wines that are more elegant in style than their Marlborough neighbours.

Early settlers to the region planted vines, but the modern viticultural industry didn't begin to blossom until the 1970s. Nelson is now home to about 25 wineries, most small, boutique operations producing premium wines.

The region has two sub regions: Moutere Hills and the Waimea Plains

Moutere Hills, to the west of the city, are slightly warmer and wetter than Waimea and the gravel-threaded clay soils give richness and texture to the wines. Pinot Noir wines show structure with fine tannins, Chardonnay has complexity and depth and Sauvignon Blanc, aromatics that offer a mineral intensity. The Moutere Hills is the location where Nelson’s early pioneers first planted, and it remains the source of some of its finest wines today.

Waimea is Maori for ‘river garden’ and this traditional area for arable crops, orchards and hops has seen most of Nelson’s recent vineyard expansion. With stony alluvial soils and a moderating maritime influence, wines tend to be lighter and fresher in style than Moutere, with bright aromas.