Even though New Zealand’s actual winemaking history dates back more than a century and a half, it is interesting to note that wines made from classic European varietals have only been available since the 1980’s.
Add to that fact that the island country’s Sauvignon Blancs (and lately Pinot Noirs) have carried the load for the smallish wine producer in international markets and competitions, you can easily see just how far New Zealand’s wine production has come in the past forty-plus years.
Originally designed to serve New Zealand’s domestic wine market, the country’s wine industry reeled when its government removed the barriers against overseas wines. Australian wines moved in and were on an equal footing by 1990. This action caused a rethinking and reestablishment of New Zealand’s wine export program. The successful changeover has resulted in an incredible increase of $NZ 1.5 billion from its starting figure of only $NZ 18 million at the implementation of the export program.
In the early 1990’s, fewer than 100 wineries were operating within the confines of the Southern Hemisphere country. By latest count, that number has swollen to more than 670 wineries that produce a large number of varietals that have won recognition and high approvals in international competitions and today grace many restaurant selections in numerous high caliber eating sites around the world.
New Zealand’s landscape extends some 1,000 miles from sub-tropical Northland (36° S) to the world’s most southerly grape growing region Central Otago (47° S). Vineyards benefit from the moderating effect of the maritime climate (no vineyard is more than 80 miles from the ocean) with long sunshine hours and nights cooled by sea breezes.
The country has also benefited by the formation of a well-run and tightly focused organization to benefit its wine industry. Called New Zealand Winegrowers, the group is the national association for New Zealand’s grape and wine sector. The organization currently has approximately 850 grower members and 700 winery members making it a most formidable marketing tool within the international wine community.
The future is extremely bright for the island country that has long played second fiddle to its larger neighbor to the northwest, Australia. Additional varietals are mushrooming into favor led by an excellent Pinot Noir and blends of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Water is not as much a problem in New Zealand as it is in Australia, a definite advantage for the fledgling Kiwis of New Zealand.
According to a recent survey by Vivino, while Australia easily outranks New Zealand in terms of production, New Zealand’s wines actually scored higher 3.72 to 3.57 in terms of quality, a definite plus for the smaller country.
New Zealand is also quite fortunate in that wine consumers worldwide are generally keen to try new selections and wines that originate from lesser known growing areas. When the cost factor becomes a consideration, New Zealand’s excellent pricing structure provides an additional element of satisfaction, particularly in the red wine arena.
It is compelling to try New Zealand’s emerging red wines and also its flagship Sauvignon Blancs that have given the country a positive position of respect in the world’s wine markets.
It is our pleasure to introduce these fine wines for our International Wine Club members. We know you will enjoy these great selections!
Wine Regions of New Zealand
New Zealand’s diverse climate, wide-ranging terrain and collection of experienced viticulturists has led to an array of top-class wine growing regions, stretching from the far north to the deep south. Although there are huge contrasts within the country, from subtropical in the north to almost arctic in the highest areas of the south, New Zealand enjoys a mostly temperate, maritime climate that has a strong influence on the country’s predominantly coastal vineyards (no vineyard is more than 80 miles from the ocean). New Zealand’s wines are renowned for their purity, vibrancy, and intensity, achieving a wonderful balance between full flavor development and fresh natural acidity.
Hawke's Bay is New Zealand's second largest wine region and the country's oldest wine region, with plantings dating back to 1851. It is also the location of our most recent feature from New Zealand: Mission Estate Winery. Hawke's Bay is a large and diverse region capable of producing a wide range of varieties to a very high standard. Although the region is perhaps best known for its red Bordeaux-style blends, its whites and Pinot Noirs are consistently impressive as well.
Mission Estate Winery
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CJ Pask Winery
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