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.