About New Zealand Wine
New Zealand is one of the flavours of the month when it comes to wine. It’s rather exciting for a country that produces less than one percent that the world’s total production. Blame the influential international wine media who rave about the sensational Sauvignon Blancs and the perfect Pinot Noirs. It’s not surprising that everyone wants to know more about the country that makes these palate-pleasing wines.
In terms of geography the three main islands - the North Island, the South Island and Stewart Island - rise out of the South Pacific Ocean along the boundary of the Indian-Australian and Pacific tectonic plates. Draw a rectangle bounded by the longitude coordinates 166° 15' in the west, 178° 45' in the east, and the southern latitude coordinates 34° in the north to 48° in the south and you'll find the spot. (Ref - The New Zealand Atlas, Heinemann, 1987).
Although a land of contrasts with a temperate maritime climate that's subtropical in the north and hard and barren in the deep south where fresh unused air blows straight off the South Pole, vineyards are found throughout the country.
Regions such as Hawkes Bay, Martinborough, Marlborough and Central Otago have world renown and take central stage in most vinous articles or tourist itineraries. Other long established regions include Auckland, Gisborne, Nelson, Canterbury and Waipara while vineyards fan out from Martinborough into the greater Wairarapa. However New Zealand is such a young wine country and vineyards are planted almost everywhere with someone hoping to find the spot that will become the next vinous real estate pot of gold. Could it be in the Waitaki Valley, the border region between South Canterbury and North Otago?
At the time of writing New Zealand's most northerly vineyard is Karikari Estate at Whatuwhiwhi on the Cape Karikari Peninsula. It yielded its first harvest in 2001 with the grapes being transported to New Zealand's then most northerly winery, Okahu Estate near Kaitaia, for processing. However Karikari Estate has since built a winery, which is now the country's most northern. The most southerly vineyard is at Te Anau and although a trial to test the potential of the region, it creates interest for tourists on route to Milford Sound. When the grapes are harvested they will be processed near Queenstown at Peregrine Wines. Also in the deep south is the Margaret John Vineyard at Ettrick, south of Roxburgh, about half an hours drive south of the most southerly winery at Black Ridge in Alexandra.
What does New Zealand do best? Undoubtably Sauvignon Blanc. It’s the uniqueness of our climate and soil, says Sauvignon Blanc expert, Dr Denis Dubourdieu of the University of Bordeaux. With excellent export propsects for our uniquely flavoured wine it’s our most planted wine grape variety, ahead of Chardonay and Pinot Noir.
Take a look at the regional guides (links below) to learn more about the New Zealand wine regions.
The New Zealand Winegrowers 2005 Annual Report, for year ended 30th June 2005, lists 516 licensed wineries, an increase of 53 over the previous year and 85 more than in 2003. There are also an additional 825 growers, an increase of 232 over 2004. Marlborough is the leading area with 101 wineries and 415 growers. Producing vineyards cover 19,960 hectares and that figure is expected to increase to approximately 22,000 hectares in 2007.
2004 was a vintage that achieved expectations with a total harvest of 166,000 tonnes, an increase of 89,100 tonnes (117%) over the previous year. The record was a combination of an increase in producing area and favourable weather conditions during flowering in the spring and through the growing and ripening season, which returned crops to normal yields in all areas except Central Otago. Marlborough on its own produced more grapes in 2004 that the whole of New Zealand in 2003. Marlborough, Gisborne and Hawkes Bay were responsible for 92% of the harvest. Click here for the 2004 vintage report.
In contrast 2005 produced lower yeilds in several areas, thanks to the coldest December on record. However crops bounced back during the fantastic start to the 2005 year to produce good quality fruit full of flavour. The season came to a bit of an abrupt end in the South Island, when frost caught some of the later crops before they were harvested. While another record year was initially expected, 2005 produced only the second highest harvest in total of tonnes, and was actually lower than 2000 and 2002 in terms of grape yield to vineyard ratio. Click here for the 2005 vintage report.
In 2006, the targets were back on track with an 11% increase on the 2004 record harvest brought about by good weather and an 18% increase in vineyard land. Click here for the 2006 vintage report.
In 2007 there was an 11% increase again and while yields of Chardonnay increased by 44%, our biggest export earners, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir increased and decreased yields by 6% respectively. Click here for the 2007 vintage report.
New Zealand Grape Producing Area
*2009 is estimated
New Zealand Grape Producing Data by Region
** Canterbury includes Waipara and South Canterbury
*** Includes the difference between tonnes crushed in total by the wine industry and the total submitted by those wineries who responded to the survey.
Waikato / Bay of Plenty
Wellington and Wairarapa
Watch this space for more to come.
Some rules relating to New Zealand Wine
Variety Statement for 2006 vintage wines and older
If more than one single grape variety is stated on the label, eg Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, again the rules differ depending on where the wine is sold. The varieties must be listed in descending order of proportion.
The same applies for region and vintage statements - substitute 'region' or 'vintage' for 'grape variety' above.
Changes from 2007
This change brings New Zealand into line with international protocols for wine label statements.
Labelling information sources
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