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New Zealand

Wine Facts

At first glance, the history of wine in New Zealand looks short – very short. Wines made from classic European grape varieties have only been widely available since the 1980s and only since the 1990s have the country’s Sauvignon Blancs (and later, their Pinot Noirs) carved out a significant presence in international markets. Samuel Marsden, an Anglican missionary, made the first recorded planting of grapevines at the Bay of Islands in 1819. The earliest recorded winemaker was Scotsman James Busby appointed the first British Resident in New Zealand.

The 1920’s and 30’s witnessed gradual but unspectacular growth. The wine industry first boomed during the Second World War – when duties were raised on imported wines – and expansion continued during the 1950s and 60’s, due to a string of legislative concessions by successive governments, including major reductions in the minimum amounts of wine that could be sold by winemakers, approval for more retail outlets, and the licensing of restaurants to sell wine in 1960.

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An outstanding feature of the 1960s and 1970s was heavy investment by overseas companies, mostly Australian and American. The 1970s also brought an overall improvement in wine quality and heavy emphasis on the production of light, fruity, slightly sweet white wines, based on the heavy-cropping variety, Muller-Thurgau. In recent decades, most Kiwi wine drinkers have developed a taste for fully dry wines, made from such classic varieties as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, which now dominate the industry's output. Wine has played a key role in the emergence of the country's thriving café culture.

New Zealand wineries originally set out to serve the small domestic market, operating within a highly regulated economy. But in 1985 the government moved to speed up the removal of barriers against overseas wines, allowing Australian wineries to contest the New Zealand market on an equal footing by 1990. Spurred into action by their heavy loss of domestic market share, the winemakers launched a sustained export drive. The value of New Zealand's wine exports has skyrocketed from SNZ18 million in 1990 to over $NZ1.5 billion in 2015.

New wine companies are mushrooming from Northland to Central Otago. Thirty years ago, there were fewer than 100 New Zealand wineries; today the ranks have swollen to almost 700. The wine industry forever abuzz with the excitement of new companies, new faces, new labels.

New Zealand Wine Regions

new zealand wine regions

New Zealand Wineries

Mount Fishtail – Marlborough, New Zealand

Sherwood – Waipara, New Zealand

Stratum – Marlborough, New Zealand