The growing areas on the North Island of New Zealand are often located on the coast and are ideal for growing wine due to the sunny climate. For a long time, the North Island was even considered the only wine-growing area in the country.
New Zealand viticulture as a newly discovered economic sector
Initially, no great future was promised for New Zealand viticulture: Legislation and abstinence movements stood in its way. Fortunately, times have changed. Today, half of all wineries are located on the country's North Island, attracting attention with strong and aromatic top quality wines.
Special wine regions on New Zealand's North Island
The diversity of Hawke's Bay
Hawke's Bay is one of New Zealand's oldest wine regions and was once even considered the main wine growing area. This changed when the Müller-Thurgau grape variety lost its importance for the country. Nevertheless, Hawke's Bay is still the largest producer of red wine in New Zealand with a share of over 80 percent. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah are the most important grape varieties here.
The landscape of Hawke's Bay has been shaped by rivers over thousands of years, which has resulted in a variety of soils. Today the vineyards extend over river valleys, terraces, coastal areas and north-facing slopes. There are well maintained cycle paths between the individual vineyards. This allows the wine tourist to enjoy the New Zealand nature on the way from tasting to tasting.
Waiheke Island: The slightly different part of Auckland
The New Zealand capital Auckland is also an important wine region, where Chardonnay, Merlot and Pinot Gris are mainly grown. It includes various growing areas such as Henderson, Huapai and Waiheke Island. The latter plays a special role because Waiheke Island is very different from the rest of the region.
Due to its insularity, Waiheke Island is drier and warmer. The location is characterised by many hours of sunshine and mild seasons. Late ripening grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon find a wonderful home here: in other regions, their ripening is often difficult, especially in cooler vintages.
The Chardonnay capital Gisborne
Gisborne plays a historical role for New Zealand: it is the place where explorer James Cook first set foot on the island. Gisborne is mainly considered the capital of Chardonnay wine, but Gewürztraminer and Viognier also come from this region.
Gisborne is home to the easternmost vineyards in the world. This means one thing above all else: the vines get the first rays of sunshine in the morning, the first rays that ever hit land. People quickly realised that this not only leads to fertile soil, but also to aromatic and deep wines.
The wine style on New Zealand's North Island
The climate determines the wine
New Zealand means one thing above all: lively, strong wines with strong aromas. With lots of sunshine and long ripening periods, the North Island produces wines with structure and quality. The quality of the vintages is determined by the rain. A lot of rain is needed in spring, while rainfall in autumn shortens the ripening period and has a negative effect.
The high temperatures on the North Island allow the grapes to ripen slowly. The intense sunlight also ensures the formation of a thick skin around the grapes, which contains the finest tannins. New Zealand's weather has one weakness: heavy rainfall in some regions such as Auckland is challenging for the winegrowers because it encourages plant diseases.
High quality Chardonnay from the North Island of New Zealand
Sauvignon Blanc is particularly popular in New Zealand. But Chardonnay is also very important for the North Island. It is considered the world's top class white wine. And although Chardonnay from New Zealand accounts for only five percent of the country's total wine production, it has become an important brand.
For the Chardonnay, the rule is: quality before quantity. Instead of mass production, high-quality, unique wines are created from low yields. The North Island relies on the many possibilities that Chardonnay offers: Stainless steel tanks make for tangy wines with fruity notes, while ageing in oak barrels can bring out aromas of caramel or vanilla.
Things to know about New Zealand's North Island
When did winegrowing begin on the North Island of New Zealand?
Winegrowing in New Zealand began in the colonial era. In 1819 a missionary planted the first vines on the North Island. However, professional viticulture was first introduced by James Busby, who had learned the winemaking trade in France and now continued to grow vines on his property in Waitangi.
What is the climate like on the North Island of New Zealand?
New Zealand's North Island is considerably warmer than the south of the country and is characterised by many hours of sunshine. In the far north there is even an almost subtropical climate. Again and again, cold Antarctic air currents influence the weather, but these are compensated by warm water masses from the north.
What soils are there on the North Island?
The soils on New Zealand's North Island are mostly rich in minerals and permeable to water. There are many different types of soil: in Auckland, heavy clay soils predominate, while Hawke's Bay can contain sand and gravel as well as clay and limestone.
What is New Zealand's North Island?
New Zealand's North Island was for a long time the country's main growing area and still plays a major role today. Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are mainly grown here. The warm, sunny climate, which becomes almost subtropical in the north, and the multi-faceted soils are particularly characteristic of winegrowing.
Buy New Zealand North Island Wines online at VINELLO
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