New Zealand Wine

New Zealand is a relatively new wine hotspot, but it has quickly earned an international reputation for its vibrant whites and complex reds. It may never catch up to the Australia wine industry, but it’s growing steadily.

Its wine production is as diverse as the country’s landscape. New Zealand’s wine regions encompass around 1,000 miles, so the nation’s grapes are grown in a variety of soil conditions and climates.

The country is now home to more than 400 wineries, up from only 150 ten years ago [Source: MarketNewZealand.com]. With its excellent growing conditions, there’s every indication New Zealand’s wine industry will continue to thrive.

History of Wine in New Zealand

Although New Zealand has only recently gained international prominence, the nation has produced wine since colonial times. However, the laws of prohibition and the popularity of beer and spirits made wine consumption a marginal activity.

That was until the end of the nineteenth century, when Dalmatian immigrants established vineyards in West and North Auckland. The wineries largely produced table wine for their local community, and sherry and port for the rest of the nation.

At the end of the 1960s, BYO (bring your own) licenses were introduced into New Zealand restaurants. This law saw wine become more culturally acceptable in the country.

Britain entered the European Economic Community in 1973, thus ending the historic trade terms for New Zealand meats and dairy. This led to a restructuring of New Zealand’s agricultural economy, and the investigation of different crops. Regions that were previously used for pasture were found to be ideal for grape vines.

The late 1960s and early 70s also saw more young New Zealanders traveling to Europe to live and work. Through this movement, a large number of Kiwis experienced the wine-drinking cultures of Europe. This also led to the increased popularity of wine in New Zealand.

In the 1970s, New Zealand’s Marlborough wine region began to produce wine. By the latter part of the decade, the area was creating acclaimed sauvignon blancs. Around the same time, Auckland and Hawke’s Bay wineries began to have success with their cabernet sauvignons.

These achievements saw more money injected into New Zealand’s viticulture industry, more vines planted, and greater local interest in wines.

In fact, the interest in wine became so great that over planting occurred, particularly of varieties that quickly fell out of vogue. In 1984 the federal government paid growers to pull up their vines to address this damaging wine glut. Due to the government’s swift action, this setback was only temporary and the local wine industry quickly recovered. It has gone from strength to strength ever since.