New Zealand Wine Regions

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007 at 12:00 am

New Zealand VineyardNew Zealand is not considered as a major player in the world of wine production. But the country has a wine industry that, through the years, has been able to produce fine quality wines that has put it into the world map.

Quality has been given more focus rather than quantity as the New Zealand wine industry has accepted the idea that it would never become a major force in wine production by volume, no matter how the country has been trying to increase its wine grape production through the years.

Its focus on quality turned out to be a good decision as some wine experts from all over the world have taken notice of the interesting characteristics and quality of the wines that New Zealand has come to produce.

New Zealand wines are largely produced from ten known wine regions located all over the country. These wine regions usually have grapes grown that are ideal for the weather conditions. The ten wine regions include:

Northland– the northernmost wine region in New Zealand. It covers a land area of about 13,789 sq. km. Northland is also the country’s smallest wine region. Grape varieties produced in this region are the three most widely planted varieties- the Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot. Most vineyards in this region can be found in gentle slopes or in flats.

Auckland– considered as the most populous region in New Zealand with over 1.5 million people despite a land area of only 6,059 sq. km. With its sub-tropical climate, Auckland has over 100 vineyards, with some of them having been the oldest established vineyards in New Zealand. This region is known for its Bordeaux wines as well as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnays.

Waikato/Bay of Plenty– a small but steadily expanding wine region in New Zealand. Vineyards occupy areas along with other farmlands. Wine production in this region focuses on mainly Chardonnay as well as Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Blanc.

Gisborne– considered as the country’s easternmost wine region. Gisborne boasts of having the vineyards that get to see the first sun rays each day because of its close proximity to the International Date Line.

Gisborne is also known as New Zealand’s fourth largest grape growing region. About half of its vineyards concentrate on growing Chardonnays, with white varieties such as Chenin Blanc, Gewürztraminer and Riesling also being planted on the remaining vineyards along with a minority of other red grape varieties.

Hawkes Bay known as New Zealand’s second largest wine region, Hawkes Bay prides itself of having one of the country’s oldest wine industries. With its varied soil types as well as high sunshine days provide this wine region with a wide range of grape varieties to nurture.

Chardonnay is the most widely planted grape variety in Hawkes Bay although its long ripening season also attracts the planting of late ripening red grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah.

Wellington– the southernmost wine region in North Island. This wine region is known for its Pinot Noir as well as its Sauvignon Blanc. Although also a small wine region in terms of production volume, Wellington more than makes up for the quality of its wines.