New Zealand extends 1,600km (1000 miles) from sub-tropical Northland (36° S) to the world’s most southerly grape growing region Central Otago (46° S).
Vineyards benefit from the moderating effect of the maritime climate (no vineyard is more than 120km, or 80 miles, from the ocean) with long sunshine hours and nights cooled by sea breezes.
New Zealand has just over 4 million people with a country 10% larger than UK & Northern Ireland – 275,000 sq km’s
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.
There are a number of distinct major winegrowing regions spread throughout New Zealand, with the majority on the East coast of the Islands in the rain shadow of the mountains.
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. To find out more about New Zealand’s wine regions click here.
New Zealand counts with 11 main wine regions which are in turn sub-divided into su-regions.
Main wine regions of the North Island: Northland, Auckland, Waitkato, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, and Wairarapa (Martinborough).
Main wine regions of the Southth Island: Marlborough, Nelson, Canterbury/Waipara Valley, and Central Otago.
New Zealand viticulturists have a special relationship with their soil, because it exerts such a strong influence on the wine’s style and character. Creating wines that taste intrinsically “of our land” is a driving force for the industry as a whole.
New Zealand vineyards thrive on many soil types, from heavy, water-retaining clay loams in Northland to dry, stony silts of the Wairau Valley. While the range of soil types is broad, soils are naturally more acidic and higher in soil organic matter than in many countries, thanks to New Zealand’s very long history of heavy forestation and very short history of cultivation.
Soil’s organic matter is a measure of the health of topsoil — it’s made up of humus, the stable portion, which improves the soil’s storage of nutrients and water, neutralises toxins and stabilises the soil; decomposing material from dead flora and fauna that helps bind the soil together; and living organisms (animals, plant roots, bacteria and fungi) that feed on the decomposing matter. Grapevines prefer to grow in soils that contain plenty of fungi, so optimising soil organic matter in the vineyard is a goal for every New Zealand viticulturist.
Vineyards and grape varieties:
New Zealand produces less than 1% of the world’s wine, yet offers an impressive array of varieties and styles. Central to success is New Zealand’s temperate, maritime climate, the unswerving passion of our wine producers and the highly distinctive nature of the country’s wine styles.
It was Sauvignon Blanc that put New Zealand on the wine map, however the diversity and sophistication of our portfolio of wine styles has ensured the love affair with New Zealand wine lives on around the world.
New Zealand’s expansive coastline enables the wine industry to succeed with a range of diverse varieties and styles; from the warmer climate wines, such as Bordeaux-style blends and Syrah, grown in Hawke’s Bay and further north, through to much cooler climate wines, such as Pinot Noir and Riesling grown in the southerly regions.
Grape Varieties grown in New Zealand include: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Malbec, Tempranillo, Marzemino, Semillon.
The infographic below shows detailed figures about the grape production levels in 2015 by region and grape variety:
In 2002, New Zealand had just 13,787 hectares of productive vines and harvested 118,700 tonnes of grapes. Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay each made up around 30%. Exports were 23 million litres, worth just $246 million, of which almost half went to the UK.
Fast-forward 13 years: in 2015 New Zealand’s productive vineyard area is over 35,000 hectares and harvest was 326,000 tonnes – each more than 250% of the 2002 figure.
Sauvignon Blanc made up 66% of the 2015 harvest, and Chardonnay 8%. 209 million litres of exports are nine times the 2002 level and, despite the strength of the New Zealand dollar, export value is nearly six times higher at $1.424 billion.
The table below presents the registered wineries paying their levy to the New Zealand Wine Growers association in 2015, giving a god indication of the number of wine producers by region:
|Waikato/Bay of Plenty||11|
- Category 1 – grape wine sales not exceeding 200,000 litres
- Category 2 – grape wine sales between 200,000 to 4 million litres
- Category 3 – grape wine sales more than 4 million litres
The infograhic below traces the history of New Zealand wine accross the 19th and 20th centuries, and the beginning of the 21st:
Top Wine Producers & Wineries:
Use the grid below to discover passionate New Zealand wine producers through our winery profiles:
New Zealand Winegrowers is the national organisation for New Zealand’s grape and wine sector. The organisation currently has approximately 850 grower members and 700 winery members. Click here to find out more about New Zealand Winegrowers.
New Zealand Winegrowers conducts a wide range of tasks on behalf of the grape and wine sector including: advocacy at regional local and international levels; providing a global marketing platform for New Zealand wine; facilitating world-class research on industry priorities; giving the industry timely and strategic information; and organising sector-wide events such as the Bragato Conference and Awards and the Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
This page was written by New Zealand Winegrowers exclusively for Social Vignerons.