Saying “Kia Ora”
Introducing New Zealand’s Abundant Wine Regions
Posted: Oct. 3, 2016
Exploring New Zealand and its regions has become a must-do travel excursion for the international epicurean. Paired with the island’s abundance of fresh seafood, lamb, venison, and produce, it’s time to say “kia ora” (Maori for hello) to their excellent wines.
For West Coast travelers, getting to New Zealand is simply an overnight, non-stop flight from Los Angeles or San Francisco. Board an evening flight, have dinner and a couple glasses of wine, and go to sleep. In 12 hours, wake up to breakfast in the city of Auckland.
Both the North and South Islands of New Zealand produce many grape varietals and styles of wine. The major regions include:
To get to the Hawkes Bay wine country on the North Island requires a half-day drive south from Auckland to the coastal town of Napier, known for its art deco architecture. The vineyards here enjoy a lot of sunshine, moderate temperatures, and great soil. The area produces exceptional grapes as well as other artisanal fruit.
Look for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Gris. Top producers found locally include Craggy Range, Elephant Hill, and Sileni Estates.
Martinborough & Wellington
Spend a few days in Hawkes Bay, then make the drive to Martinborough to experience the intensity of Old World-style wines made with a New World flair. Pinot Noir is the major player in this relatively small community: the better producers are Ata Rangi and Escarpment. Drive up to Wellington and stay in the capital to enjoy its San Francisco-like feel.
Next, take a ferry from Wellington to the South Island and view the dramatic fjords as you dock at Havelock. The Nelson area has pristine beaches, ample sun, beautiful scenery, fresh foods, and great wines. Cooler weather varietals excel here, such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Pinot Noir. Producers to look for include Neudorf and Te Mania.
About two hours south of Nelson is Marlborough, the largest wine region in New Zealand. The area is world famous for Sauvignon Blancs. Craggy Range, Cloudy Bay, Clos Henri, Kim Crawford, Oyster Bay, and Whitehaven are some of the best producers.
Take a flight from Marlborough to Queenstown to taste elegant Pinot Noirs, Pinot Gris, and other more aromatic wines made here. The generally cooler temperatures result in the grapes taking four to eight weeks longer to ripen. Top producers found locally are Mt Difficulty, Peregrine, and Amisfield. Queenstown is beautiful, and offers a lot of opportunity for extreme sports.
So, for your next travel destination, set your expectations high and your sights — down under. Make the trip and explore New Zealand’s world-class wine regions. To learn more about a variety of New Zealand wines, visit The WineSellar & Brasserie. 858.450.9557, winesellar.com Gary Parker