New Zealand - Wine Country - back

New Zealand has a growing reputation as a wine country. In just three or four days on the wine trail, you can sample more wine styles and see more beautiful landscapes than just about anywhere else on earth.

The classic trail extends from Hawke’s Bay to Wairarapa and via Wellington to Marlborough (or vice versa).

The Hawke’s Bay region is one of New Zealand’s oldest-established wine producers; home to more than 40 vineyards. The diversity of soil types, slope and climate enables numerous varieties to be grown successfully, with chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah and pinot noir the main but by no means only ones.

In Wairarapa, the wine capital is the small town of Martinborough, with over 20 small wineries, most of which may be reached on foot from the town square. A few other Wairarapa vineyards are also to be found further afield. Best known for its pinot noir, which has a world-class reputation, the region also produces wines from cabernet sauvignon, merlot varieties, as well as riesling and gewürtztraminer.

At the north-eastern tip of the South Island, Marlborough basks in long, hot summers that seem tailor-made for producing some of the world’s best sauvignon blancs. With close to 60 wineries in the region, however, it isn’t surprising to find other high class wine styles, such as riesling, pinot gris and chardonnay.

In each of these major wine producing areas, there are many opportunities to visit and sample the products of the winemaker’s art. A number of wineries also offer lunch or dinner in a vineyard setting, with emphasis on locally harvested produce from both land and sea.

The grape-growing areas of New Zealand are not limited to those of the wine trail. Around Gisborne is a major wine-producing area, respected particularly for the calibre of its chardonnay. In the South Island, around Alexandra in Central Otago, is a newly developing grape-growing area with up to 20 vineyards. In contrast, some of the oldest and best known of New Zealand’s vineyards are to be found in the West Auckland area, around Henderson and Kumeu.