From the sub-tropical Northland to the world’s most southerly grape growing region of Central Otago, the vineyards of New Zealand stretch out over 1000 miles and benefit from the moderating effect of a maritime climate (no vineyard is more than 80 miles from the ocean).
New Zealand wine is distinctive for its purity, vibrancy and intensity of flavour. The long ripening period - a result of cool temperatures - allows flavour development whilst retaining fresh acidity, a balance for which New Zealand wines are renowned.
There are a number of distinct major wine-growing regions spread throughout New Zealand, with the majority on the East coast of the Islands in the rain shadow of the mountains. On the north island the most popular wine regions include Auckland, Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa. Within these diverse regions, sub-regional characteristics are beginning to show through and wines are now being distinguished as being not just from a wine region, but from a sub-region and a place. On New Zealand's south island Marlborough is the country's most important wine region, famous for its pungent, zesty white wines made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape variety. Nelson is a small region to the north which is growing in reputation, whilst Central Otago is home to the world's most southerly vineyards and is where the marginal Pinot Noir grape variety has found particular success. The North Canterbury wine region spans nearly 200km of the South Island’s eastern coastline, with the magnificent Alps to the west and the sweeping Pacific Ocean to the east. The cool, dry climate with good sunshine and long growing season promote full varietal expression; wines are renowned for their intense flavours, richness and complex fruit.
New Zealand’s dependence on Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir has been a weakness in the past, but the success in recent vintages of Pinot Gris, Syrah and Gewürztraminer, has made this country’s offering far more diverse and interesting for those seeking out alternate quality wines from the new world.