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New Zealand has 10 significant wine-growing regions. The largest are Marlborough, Hawkes Bay and Gisborne in Eastland, but Central Otago is rapidly growing as a producer of Pinot Noir, and Canterbury’s Waipara Valley is getting a name for its Reislings.
Northland: The country’s warmest ripening conditions make Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay the varieties of choice.
Auckland: Look for superb Chardonnays, particularly from Waiheke Island, but Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are also popular. Matakana, north of Auckland, produces Merlot, Syrah (Shiraz), Chardonnay and Pinot Gris.
Bay of Plenty: A small but growing wine-producing region with an emphasis on Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc.
Gisborne: The Chardonnay capital of New Zealand consistently produces delicious examples of this popular wine.
Hawke’s Bay: This region has one of the longest traditions of winemaking in New Zealand. Local Chardonnays are stunning, as are the reds, particularly those from the celebrated Gimblett Gravels area. Look for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Pinot Noir.
Wairarapa: This small but significant wine-growing area produces premium examples of Pinot Noir, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris.
Marlborough: Many consider this the Sauvignon Blanc capital of the world – hot, sunny days and crisp nights intensify flavour. The region also produces Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling, and is developing a reputation for Méthode Traditionelle sparkling wines.
Nelson: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Noir are best suited to this region’s cooler growing conditions.
Canterbury: The crisp climate makes for good Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.
Central Otago: Home to some of the southernmost vineyards in the world, here the emphasis is on Pinot Noir, with some Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling also produced.
A must-do for wine lovers in-country, the self-guided Classic New Zealand Wine Trail takes you through New Zealand’s biggest wine-growing regions, from Hawke’s Bay via Wairarapa to Marlborough.
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