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edited by Sue Courtney
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Canterbury
By Sue Courtney ©
23 August 2002
Updated 7 August 2008

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.

Varieties 2002* 2003* 2004*
Chardonnay

438

261

483

Gewurztraminer

10

1

26

Muller Thurgau

52

31

68

Pinot Gris

127

60

126

Riesling

396

317

788

Sauvignon Blanc

245

189

311

Semillon

2

12

1

Other White Vinifera

40

11

41

Cabernet Franc

8

15

13

Cabernet Sauvignon

47

43

46

Malbec

0

6

0

Merlot

73

76

21

Pinot Noir

523

394

890

Pinotage

4

2

4

Syrah

1

1

2

Other Red Vinifera

1

2

6

Hybrids

4

0

0

Total

1,971

1,421

2,825

* Figures are rounded and may not add to the total as supplied by New Zealand Winegrowers.

Canterbury Wineries

South East and Banks Peninsula
Tai Tapu area
Bentwood
Drewery's Wineshed
Ellesmere
Rossendale
Wattlebank

Banks Peninsula
Kaituna Valley
Banks Peninsula Wine Company (aka Akaroa Harbour)
French Farm
Takamatua Valley Vineyards (prev. Akaroa Winery)

South Canterbury
Sirocco at Rakaia
Opihi at Pleasant Point
Brasell's Bridge at Timaru
Claycliffs Vineyard at Omarama

Christchurch - south west on the plains
Dry Plains
Gatehouse
Giesen
Larcomb
Morworth
Sandihurst
Trents
Tresillian
Waipara Hills (was Langdale)

Christchurch - North & North-West
Cracroft Chase
St. Helena
Rosebank (Wine Design)
Darjon
Melness
Northern Arch
Springbank
Swannanoa Wines
Tram Road Vineyard
Whiterock

North of Waipara
Cheviot Vineyard
Kaikoura Wine Co.
Waipara / Waikiri
Alan McCorkindale
Arden Vineyard
Bell Hill
Black Estate
Camshorn
Daniel Schuster
Fiddler's Green
Floating Mountain
Glenmark
Hurunui River Wines
Mercator Wines
Mount Cass Wines
Mountford
Muddy Water
Pegasus Bay
Pimlico Vineyards
Sherwood
Sterling Lines
Torlesse
Waipara Downs
Waipara Springs
Waipara West
Whitestone

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?
Is Omarama in Canterbury or Otago? There seems to be some confusion as to the regional location of this rural high country South Island town, which just happens to be site of the Omarama vineyard, Clay Cliffs. Is Omarama in Otago, or is it in Canterbury? Some sources list it as part of Otago (most commonly) while other sources list it as Canterbury. The confusion arises because Omarama is in the Waitaki District, which it has its own District Council headquarters at Oamaru on the coast and 90% of Waitaki people live in the coastal rather than the inland area. However the whole of the Waitaki District, which has the Waitaki River as its northern boundary, actually falls partly within Otago Regional Council area and partly within the Environment Canterbury area (source Otago Regional Council website ). If you look at the regional boundaries of the larger Otago (see Otago Regional Map) and Canterbury regions, you will find that Omarama is situated within the Environment Canterbury area and outside of Otago. The vineyard at Omarama is in Canterbury and is in fact the region's most south-western winery.

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.

Other links

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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