New Zealand is located in the southwestern Pacific ocean comprising two main land masses called North Island and South Island. See also the Cook Islands. New Zealand’s wine ten regions extend 700 miles (1,100km) from subtropical Northland (35° S) down to Central Otago (45° S) – home to some of the world’s most southerly vineyards. No vineyard is more than 80 miles (120km) from the ocean.

Regions: Auckland (North Island). | Canterbury (South Island). | Central North Island (North Island). | Gisborne (North Island). | Hawke’s Bay. | Marlborough (South Island). | Martinborough. | Nelson (South Island). Northland (North Island). | Otago (South Island). | Waiheke Island (North Island). |  Wairarapa (North Island). | Waipara (South Island). | Waitaki Valley (South Island).

Vineyard area: 2019 38,000 hectares planted with over 40 varieties.

Grape varieties: Sauvignon Blanc. | Syrah.

Organics & Biodynamics: New Zealand ranks with Austria for the high overall quality of its organic and Biodynamic wines. This is due to various factors, the key one in the case of Biodynamics being the influence of the late Peter Proctor, who instilled in New Zealand’s Biodynamic wine-growers the importance of making high quality Biodynamic preparations 500-508, high quality Biodynamic compost 502-507, and high quality Biodynamic compost sprays such as his Cow Pat Pit

New Zealand is also blessed in that the majority of its organic or Biodynamic vineyards are grazed at some stage during the year by sheep, cows, horses or other livestock. This is important because Biodynamics sees the world as made up of three ‘kingdoms’, namely the mineral (in the soil for example), the vegetal (all plants, not just vines) and the animal. I think this ‘living’ element for want of a better term shines through in the best of New Zealand’s organic and Biodynamic wines. Not that Peter Proctor would have known–he was teetotal.

The Biodynamic Association in New Zealand is in charge of Demeter Biodynamic certification. Organic Winegrowers New Zealand is the national body for organic wine-growers.

2015: As of vintage 2015 New Zealand had 165 certified organic or Biodynamic estates in 2015 (12% of all NZ growers) with a collective 1,900 hectares (4,693 acres) of vineyards and 69 certified organic wineries. This meant around 6% of New Zealand’s vineyard land had certification (by Assure, Demeter or Bio-Gro). By region: 16.1% Otago. 4.9% Marlborough.

2012: As of the 2012 vintage, Organic Winegrowers New Zealand reported 2,550 hectares of certified organic vineyards  – about 7.6% of the country’s total vineyard area. Of these 2,550 hectares, approximately half were fully certified organic for the 2012 vintage, with the rest registered as in conversion to organic production.

2007: In 2007 Bio-Gro New Zealand (the largest of New Zealand’s several certification bodies) certified 20 organic growers with 225 hectares (555 acres) of vineyards (Source: Jared White of BioGro 2015).

2002178.325 hectares of organic vineyards for Grapes/Viticulture, including registration conversion and full BioGro (Source: Bio-Gro). Andreas Welte (June 2002) reported thirteen certified organic vineyards, four in the North Island and nine in the South Island. They ranged from three to fifty hectares in size. There were another five vineyards in the North Island, mainly Hawkes Bay and Waiheke Island and another six around the South Island, mainly Nelson, Marlborough, Waipara, Christchurch and Otago which are in conversion to organic management or establishing new operations, ranging from twelve to sixty hectares.’

1989-1999: During the 1989-1999 period Bio-Gro New Zealand certified 6 organic growers (Source: Jared White of BioGro, July 2015).

Vintages

2018 Warm summer. Very early start to harvesting. 419,000 tonnes of grapes harvested, up 6% on the (small) 2017 tonnage, but lower than initially anticipated. 2018 saw increased production of red wines, with both Pinot Noir and Merlot up over 20% on 2017, a year in which both varieties had been down sharply. New Zealand wine exports were valued at $1.71 billion (mid-2018), up 3% in the past year. Wine is New Zealand’s fifth largest export good.

See also: Elections. |  Exports (non-wine). | National Flag. | Seasonal worker scheme. | Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand (SWNZ).

Bibliography

Jared White of BioGro, 10 July 2015, Organic Wine Conference, Blenheim, New Zealand. 

Andreas Welte, ‘Organic Vineyard Update, Harvests–Magazine of the Bio Dynamic Farming and Gardening Association in New Zealand Inc., (Winter 2002, Vol 55 No. 2, p.12).