New Zealand is a country of contrasts with spectacular coastline, dense, snow-capped mountains and native forest. Wine growing regions span the latitudes of 36 to 45 degrees and cover 1,600km (1000 miles), with grapes being grown in a huge range of climates and soil types, producing a huge diversity of styles. New Zealand's temperate, maritime climate has a strong influence on the country's predominantly coastal vineyards. The vines are warmed by strong, clear sunlight during the day and cooled at night by sea breezes. The long, slow ripening period helps to retain the vibrant varietal flavours that make New Zealand wine so distinctive. This is certainly true for the area for which we can provide first hand knowledge: Hawkes Bay!
Landscape in New Zealand
Hawkes Bay: will it be a good wine year?
Hawkes Bay: steep vineyards
Hawkes Bay: Lovely Sauvignon Blanc
Located on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island, Hawkes Bay is the country's second largest region and wine has been made here for over 100 years. The varied topography and wide range of soil types, from fertile silty loams to free-draining shingle, produces a considerable range of wine styles in this large region.
Chardonnay is the most widely planted grape variety but as a result of the long sunshine hours (2200) a high percentage of later-ripening red grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah, as well as the early ripening Pinot Noir are grown.
Hawkes Bay is one of the sunniest and hottest areas of New Zealand. Cool winters and long warm summers are typical of a temperate climate that provides ideal growing conditions for grapes. Worldwide, the region is recognised for award winning wines, and particularly for the quality of its red wines. History, consistency, diversity and innovation continue to provide the foundation for Hawke's Bay's reputation as a fine wine producing region.
The local wine scene is celebrated year round with individual winery events, the three major winery events being - Harvest Hawkes Bay, in February, the Hawkes Bay Wine Auction in June and the Hawkes Bay A&P Mercedes-Benz Wine Awards in October.
Marlborough is New Zealand's largest and best known wine growing area with vines were first planted here in 1973. Sauvignon Blanc is the most planted grape variety with Chardonnay in second place, followed by Pinot Noir and Riesling. Whilst Sauvignon Blanc maybe the star of Marlborough wines, the area is also well-known for its sparkling wines (Méthode Traditionelle) as well as a wide range of both white and red table wines
Located on the country's most easterly tip and closest to the international dateline, Gisborne has the world's most easterly vineyards. The region receives high sunshine hours on coastal plains that are sheltered from the west by a range of mountains. Chardonnay occupies approx. half of Gisborne's vineyards and has lead the local winemakers to christen their region the Chardonnay capital of New Zealand. The balance is planted in mostly other white varieties, and the red grapes represent only around 10%.
Hawkes Bay: where the vines meet the river
Hawkes Bay: New oak barrels waiting patiently.
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