New Zealand Wine Regions

New Zealand has ten distinctive wine regions. Extending 1,600 kilometres (990 mi) from sub-tropical Northland (36° S) to the world’s most southerly grape growing region Central Otago (47° S). Nearly all New Zealand vineyards are located within 125km of the coastline, with the majority of the grapes grown on the East Coast. Vineyards use different soil types, and a are grown in varied climates, New Zealand wine regions produce a vast range of diverse wine styles. There are over 700 wineries dotted around the country.
New Zealand wine is distinctive for its purity, vibrancy and intensity. 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.

The most northerly wine region in New Zealand, and thus closest to the equator.

This region lies around New Zealand’s largest city. Producing mainly red wines from grapes grown on heavy clay soil. It is the warmest New Zealand’s vine-growing areas.

Waikato/Bay of Plenty
This area is also known for growing kiwifruit and apples.

A small wine region to the north of Hawkes Bay. Noted for its Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer. It is also the world’s most easterly vine producing region.

Hawke’s Bay
Hawke’s Bay, along with Marlborough, is the centre of gravity for the New Zealand wine industry; it is New Zealand’s oldest wine producing area and is the country’s second largest wine production region. The premiere area for Bordeaux blend reds in New Zealand and the region is rapidly developing a reputation for quality Syrah. Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc are produced and lately Viognier. Specialist high quality small producers include Bilancia and Bridge Pa. Other well-known producers include Brookfields Estate, Clearview Estate, Esk Valley, Villa Maria, Vidal, Trinity Hill, Craggy Range, Newton Forrest Estate, Te Mata Estate, Moana Park Estate, Mission Estate, Sileni, Sacred Hill, CJ Pask, and Babich.

The Wellington/Wairarapa wine-growing region is one of New Zealand’s smallest, with several sub-regions, which include Gladstone, Martinborough, Masterton, and Opaki. Martinborough was the original area planted, on the basis of careful scientific study, in the 1970s, which identified its soils and climate as perfectly suited to the cultivation of Pinot noir. As a consequence, many of the vineyards established there are older than their counterparts in the rest of the Wairarapa. Subtle differences are seen in the wines from the South Wairarapa (which includes Martinborough), which has more maritime influences, to those grown further north.

Martinborough is a small wine village located at the foot of New Zealand’s North Island, in the South Wairarapa, just 1.5 hours drive from Wellington, the capital city. The combination of topography, geology, climate and human effort has led to the region becoming one of New Zealand’s premier wine regions in spite of its small size. Less than 2% of the country’s wine production is grown in Martinborough, yet in shows and competitions, it rates much more highly. The local Winegrowers organization states: “Officially New Zealand’s sixth largest region, Wellington/Wairarapa is small in production terms but makes a large contribution to the country’s quality winemaking reputation.”

This wine region is amongst the countries smaller wine regions. Wineries are picaresque and many offer the change to taste wines. Nelson vineyards concentrate on grape varieties suited to cooler conditions with Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Noir accounting for most of the grapes grown.

Omihi Hills and Waipara
In many respects the most well-known Canterbury area for Pinot noir. Good examples of Pinot noir include Mountford Estate, Black Estate, Waipara Hills, Omihi Hills, Greystone, Waipara Springs, Pegasus Bay and Crater Rim. White wines of the region include Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc and Riesling.

Central Otago
The most southerly wine producing region in the world. The vineyards are also the highest in New Zealand at 200 to 400 metres above sea level on the steep slopes of lakesides and the edges of deep river gorges, often also in glacial soils. Central Otago is a sheltered inland area with a continental microclimate characterised by hot, dry summers, short, cool autumns and crisp, cold winters. Divided into several subregions around Bannockburn, Bendigo, Gibbston/Queenstown, Wanaka, the Kawarau Gorge, the Alexandra Basin, and the Cromwell Basin