New Zealand wine - a brave new world

New Zealand is gaining a reputation for producing world class wine.

The first New Zealand vines were planted in the Bay of Islands - in the northern North Island. Early missionary Samuel Marsden established the country’s first vineyard at his Kerikeri mission station in late 1819 and British Resident and wine enthusiast James Busby planted vines that had originated in France in his vineyard at nearby Waitangi in 1833.

Later French Roman Catholic brothers planted vineyards on the east coast of the North Island and began producing wine for use in the sacraments.

Wine appreciation

The prohibition movement and the influence of the British, who preferred beer and spirits, meant wine wasn't really appreciated in New Zealand until the arrival of the first Dalmatian migrants at the turn of the 20th century.

The new arrivals brought with them a knowledge of viticulture and an appreciation of wine never seen before in New Zealand. Their years of hard toil and expertise have made the industry what it is today.

Wine varieties

New Zealand's 10 wine producing regions span 1600kms - almost the entire length of the country, resulting in varieties that reflect the huge diversity of the landscapes that they grow in.

From pinot noir to pinot gris, New Zealand wines are winning awards all over the globe, punching well above their weight on the international scene.

Some of the hundreds of New Zealand vineyards are even growing the rare viognier white wine grape - a grape which almost became extinct in its native France due to a pesky insect - with splendid results.

Because of New Zealand's cooler climate the viognier grape produces a different taste to its French equivalent, a taste that has made it the new trendy white wine in New Zealand.

Environmental responsibility

As well as producing top class wine, the New Zealand wine industry has also made a commitment to protecting the environment.

Sustainable winegrowing has also been actively embraced by Pernod Ricard, one of New Zealand’s largest wine companies and the producer of top-selling labels including Church Road and Montana.

Grove Mill Winery, in Malborough, became the first winery in the world to achieve carbon zero certification. The certification involves addressing climate change impacts with the aim of adding no net carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to the atmosphere in the production and distribution of its wines.

Yealands Estate, also in the Marlborough wine growing region, is home to New Zealand’s largest privately-owned and carbon neutral winery.

More information:

NZ wine industry committed to sustainability

European influences on New Zealand wines

Classic NZ Wine Trail - journey of the senses

Nectar from the vine - NZ stickies