5 New Zealand Wine Regions You Need to Explore
New Zealand is a small country, geographically, yet has become internationally-acclaimed for its wine over the past years. The nation now exports a multitude of different wine varietals all over the globe. In New Zealand, no vineyard in the country is further away from the ocean than 75 miles, and the country receives long hours of sunshine as well as cool sea breezes wafting over the lands at night. The cool temperatures and sunny weather helps to grow grapes that have a long ripening period, and as a result New Zealand wines contain a lovely balance of flavor and acidity.
As the country’s vintners have become more aware of the region’s wonderful combination of soil and climate, they have used this to rapidly grow New Zealand’s international wine profile. Wine lovers around the world can now easily enjoy the distinctly New Zealand wine taste that other drops just don’t have, during time spent exploring the many wine regions in the country. If you’d like to check out the best wines that the country has to offer, read on for five New Zealand wine regions you need to explore.
If you’re keen to get a taste of a variety of New Zealand wine-producing areas, consider traveling along the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail. This route goes through four significant wine regions in the country, from Hawke’s Bay in the North Island, down to famous Marlborough in the South Island. It provides the opportunity to stop at more than 120 cellar doors along the way, and journeys through regions that account for over 80 per cent of the wine production in New Zealand.
The start of the trail is in Hawke’s Bay, situated on the east side of the country’s North Island. Hawke’s Bay is one of the top food and wine destinations in the country, with a warmer, drier climate than many other parts of New Zealand. This more temperate setting bodes very well for a variety of wine types, most notably reds such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah. The area does, however, also produce many fine chardonnays. While there are a variety of accommodation options in this region, wine lovers can choose to really immerse themselves in the area by opting to stay at one of the local wineries that provide on-site accommodation.
The most famous, and also the largest, wine region in New Zealand is Marlborough. Situated at the top of the South Island, the region produces close to half of the country’s yearly bounty and is world-famous for its sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, and Riesling varietals. On top of its impeccable wine credentials, the Marlborough area also happens to be considered the green-lipped mussel capital of the world. For a true gastronomic feast, book flights to New Zealand with an online site like Flights.com, and make sure you pair some of the region’s fresh mussels with a glass or two of a local sauvignon blanc.
If you’re planning a short trip to Auckland, then don’t worry about missing out on trying plenty of New Zealand wine. Around the country’s largest city there are over 100 different wineries, some of which happen to be the oldest vineyards in New Zealand. This wine region is a great place to explore if you’re keen to try some complex chardonnay, or intense cabernet sauvignon, drops. Near the Auckland airport travelers can even find an award-winning gewürztraminer winery. Alternatively, some of the region’s best new vineyards can be found on Waiheke Island, located an easy 30-minute taxi ride from the Auckland CBD.
Gisborne is the fourth-biggest wine region in the country, and also happens to be the first in the world to see the new day’s sun each morning. Located on the sun-drenched east coast of the North Island, Gisborne is considered the unofficial “Chardonnay Capital of New Zealand,” and as such specializes in buttery chardonnays, as well as some quality Chenin blanc, riesling and gewürztraminer wines.
The Central Otago region is the southernmost wine-producing area in the world, and is the perfect place to head for first-class pinot noir. Located in the southern half of the country’s South Island, the Central Otago region is close by for travelers who plan to visit popular tourist destinations such as Queenstown and Wanaka. Apart from pinot noir, the area is also known to produce quality riesling, pinot gris, chardonnay, and gewürztraminer.