Wine Regions

New Zealand

New Zealand wine is world renowned, known for intensity of flavour and purity, intrinsically linked to the bucolic New Zealand wine regions. New Zeala…

New Zealand wine is world renowned, known for intensity of flavour and purity, intrinsically linked to the bucolic New Zealand wine regions. New Zealand wineries are highly regarded for their cool climate wine styles of high quality. New Zealand wine regions extend from what is considered a ‘sub-tropical’ climate in the Northland wine region at the top of the North Island through to the world’s most southerly wine growing area of Central Otago.


New Zealand wine is grown and made in ten distinct New Zealand wine regions, with a history that dates back to the 1830s. Modern New Zealand wine and wine growing was reinvigorated and developed in the 1970s, with further interest since the ‘breakthrough’ of New Zealand wine via Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc wine during the 1990s. Today, New Zealand wine and New Zealand wineries are recognized for their premium nature and distinct styles. 

Get to New Zealand

New Zealand wine growing regions are accessible via major cities, including Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown. New Zealand wine regions are found on the North Island and South Island, with all New Zealand wineries a relatively easy drive from airports. New Zealand Central Otago wine region is located near Queenstown airport, and Auckland wine region and Waiheke Island wine region are located near Auckland airport. Wellington airport is the gateway to many New Zealand wine regions, including Martinborough and Hawkes Bay wine regions, and Marlborough wine region is a short flight from Wellington airport.

Climate and style in New Zealand

New Zealand wine is produced in a diverse spectrum of climates and styles with a focus on New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and New Zealand Pinot Noir. New Zealand wine brands are found on the North Island and South Island in a diverse array of wine regions, with a common thread that they are all considered cool to moderate climates. New Zealand wine is influenced by proximity to the ocean and a far southery latitude.


New Zealand wine styles vary broadly amongst the ten New Zealand wine regions, with a focus on medium to full bodied New Zealand Pinot Noir and the very distinct, gooseberry-herbal characters found in New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.


The cool climate New Zealand wine regions see New Zealand wineries producing wine that is usually more elegant and restrained in character. New Zealand wine white grape-based is often made in stainless steel tanks for maximum fruitiness and freshness, though New Zealand Chardonnay is usually rich in oak character and malolactic fermentation, giving weight and texture, and ‘reserve’ or ‘fume’ styles of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc may see oak for additional savouriness and texture. Typically, New Zealand red grape wines are medium bodied, elegant, and fine in tannin profile. New Zealand Pinot Noir is known for its quiet power, and New Zealand red grape wines from Hawkes Bay’s famed Gimblett Gravels offer powerful yet controlled New Zealand wine, produced typically from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and blends, or Syrah.

Key New Zealand Varietals

New Zealand wineries are working with a broad range of New Zealand wine grape varieties, with a mix of mostly French varieties prominent – with a focus on New Zealand Pinot Noir and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. New Zealand wine blends and single variety New Zealand wine is made predominately from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Viognier and Syrah. Some New Zealand wineries are now working with the Austrian grape variety Gruner Veltliner, and there are small plantings of ‘alternative varieties’ throughout New Zealand wine regions.

New Zealand Pinot Noir

New Zealand wine made from Pinot Noir is considered the flagship New Zealand red grape for New Zealand wineries. New Zealand wine produced from Pinot Noir is typically elegant, fine and long in flavour, with examples from Martinborough typically more structured than the generous, silky wines of Marlborough or the bombastic, powerful wines of Central Otago. Pinot Noir from New Zealand wineries tends to cellar short to medium term, though some benchmark New Zealand wine producers have wines that live a very long time.

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

The most recognized and widely drunk New Zealand wine white grape is Sauvignon Blanc and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and indeed Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is what arguably put New Zealand wineries on the international wine map. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is typically gooseberry, herbal and to an extent tropical fruit-orientated, and ranges in style from very easy drinking, simple styles through to oak and lees matured New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc produced in ‘reserve’ or ‘fume’ styles that show more complexity, depth and savouriness.

New Zealand wineries

New Zealand wineries range from boutique, small operations to very large scale in production. New Zealand wineries have some very recognizable brands amongst the mix of small and big producers, with most New Zealand wineries focusing on New Zealand Pinot Noir, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or New Zealand Chardonnay wines. New Zealand wineries are mostly bound to a comprehensive sustainability charter and many wineries are farming organically or are certified organic.


High profile New Zealand wineries include Ata Rangi, Martinborough Estate, Cloudy Bay, Oyster Bay, Brancott Estate, Huia, Framingham Wines, Akarua, Ara Wines, Amisfield, Bilancia, Cable Bay Vineyard, Burn Cottage Vineyard, Mount Edward, Bell Hill Vineyard, Pyramid Valley Vineyard, Schubert Wines, Churton Wines, Cos Henri, Cooper Creek Vineyard, Villa Maria, Craggy Range, Dog Point Vineyards, Dry River Wines, Fromm Winery, Giesen Wines, Greywacke, Hans Herzog Estate, Millton Vineyard and Winery, Hunter’s Wines, Vavasour, Kim Crawford, Mahi, Man O’War Vineyards, Maude Wines, MOMO Wines, Mudhouse, Fairhall Downs, Waipara Hills, Mount Difficulty, Quartz Reef, Rippon, Seresin Estate, Two Paddocks, Valli Vineyards, Yealands Family Wines amongst many more.

The future of New Zealand

New Zealand wine is in an enviable position with its highly elevated profile for New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and New Zealand Pinot Noir. This reputation has helped New Zealand wineries show off other wines and styles from other grape varieties, and has assisted in building further recognition of the premium nature of New Zealand wine. New Zealand also has the image of a pristine, green environment which encourages New Zealand wine region tourism. All this coupled together will only draw more attention to the already wonderful New Zealand wine offering and will encourage further diversity of grapes and styles.

File under:

  • New Zealand
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Sav Blanc
  • White Wine
  • Pinot Noir