edited by Sue Courtney
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Please note - this is a Work in Progress.
Canterbury, in the middle of the South Island is the largest of the New Zealand's regional council areas when it comes to land area. The region is bounded by water on three sides - the South Pacific Ocean to the east, the mouth of the Waitaki River in the south and the length of Clarence River in the north, which is also Marlborough's southern boundary. The Southern Alps forms the mountainous western boundary.
Despite the towering mountains, Canterbury has also the largest area of flat land in New Zealand with many rivers cutting the expansive Canterbury Plains. The stones from the glaciers and mountain erosion form stony river terraces and where they lie over the limestone or volcanic rock basement, it is ideal for the cultivation of grapevines.
There are many suitable places for growing grapes in Canterbury, as the geographic spread of vineyards from Kaikoura through to the Waitaki would confirm, although the potential of many parts of the district is yet to be explored. Consequently the two main growing sub-regions are clustered on the plains in the Selwyn and Waimakiriri Districts around the regions largest city, Christchurch, and further north at Waipara in the Hurunui District. Other sites have been established near Timaru and in the MacKenzie country. The astute tourist will spot vineyards of only 100 or so vines, to vineyards of several hectares.
* Figures are rounded and may not add to the total as supplied by New Zealand Winegrowers.
There are also wine production facilities at Lincoln University and at Christchurch Polytechnic School of Horticulture.
Waipara has its own summary pages on this site.
As well as the Canterbury Winegrowers Association, the Waitaki Valley producers are also in the process of setting up their own winegrower association.
Is Omarama in Canterbury or Otago?
Similarly, the Waitaki River towns of Kurow and Duntroon, further to the east of Omarama on Highway 83 and closer to the sea, also fall within Environment Canterbury. Between these two towns you'll find the relatively new vineyard developments at Grants Road, Doctors Creek and Racecourse Road. But as these areas were historically part of Otago, and many of the residents are true blue and gold Otago rugby supporters, they believe that a line on a map has no meaning. To them, these areas have always been part of Otago and always will be.
But drive down Highway 83, from Omarama to Kurow and further east to Duntroon, and you will see both blue and gold coloured letter boxes of Otago rugby supporters as well as red and black coloured letter boxes of Canterbury rugby supporters. They may support one team or another, but they also know who they pay their regional council levies to, however, and that is the fact of the matter.
The developments in the Hakataramea Valley, north of Kurow, where 10,000 vines have been planted on the eastern slopes of the valley, also fall within the confines of Canterbury, and there is no dispute about that.
Canterbury Winegrowers Association - inlcudes winery list and map - www.canterburywine.co.nz.
Check out my book review Canterbury Grapes and Wine 1840 - 2002.© Sue Courtney
The information on this page was researched by Sue Courtney and normal copyright applies, including the html code.
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