Mas­ter of Wine Emma Jenk­ins takes us to Gisborne, the first re­gion to see each new day and one that has a rich wine­mak­ing tra­di­tion.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS -

New Zealand is blessed with a di­ver­sity of wine re­gions, each one a unique mix of cli­mate, va­ri­eties and wine styles – and of course, peo­ple. Gisborne is the coun­try’s third largest wine pro­duc­tion area but of­ten flies un­der the radar thanks to its more out-of-the-way lo­ca­tion. But its set­ting is what truly con­trib­utes to Gisborne’s spe­cial char­ac­ter.

The first part of the coun­try to see the sun each day – and usu­ally the first re­gion in the coun­try to har­vest grapes – Gisborne’s mild, sunny cli­mate and fer­tile plains have long de­liv­ered rivers of gen­er­ously fruited wines. The re­gion’s rich wine­grow­ing his­tory (vines were first planted in 1850) and rugged re­mote­ness have also left a colour­ful legacy of real char­ac­ters and pi­o­neer­ing in­di­vid­u­als amongst the pro­duc­ers who con­tinue to shape its wines to this day.

You might be sur­prised at how many of your favourite wines are made us­ing Gisborne grapes. Gisborne has long been home to many of our most pop­u­lar wines, in­clud­ing the great value Lin­dauer sparkling wines. In fact, sparkling wine is one of the stand­out strings to the re­gion’s bow, along­side chardon­nay, gewürz­traminer, viog­nier and in­creas­ingly the Span­ish va­ri­ety, al­barino. But Gisborne also grows al­most ev­ery other va­ri­ety you can imag­ine, and some you prob­a­bly can’t – the lesser known St Lau­rent, fi­ano, and verdelho are all found here. The hall­mark of Gisborne wine is flavour­some ripe fruiti­ness, of­ten gen­er­ous in style but with lovely pu­rity and bal­ance.

Be­ing off the beaten track, Gisborne has fewer cel­lar doors than most of our other wine re­gions, but you’re still as­sured of a warm wel­come. High­lights are the pi­o­neer­ing or­ganic, bio­dy­namic Mill­ton Vine­yard – where vi­gneron James Mill­ton is likely to en­gage you in an en­light­en­ing chat over their ac­claimed wines; and the award-win­ning, his­toric Matawhero Wines, where the in­de­fati­ga­ble Searle fam­ily has taken over from the inim­itable Denis Ir­win (a true wine in­dus­try ec­cen­tric).

To get a feel for what the re­gion has to of­fer, head to the har­bour­side Gisborne Wine Cen­tre, where al­most ev­ery lo­cal wine is for sale and many are open for sam­pling. They have all the info on who, how and when to visit in the area, plus there’s a great food to en­joy with the wines, mak­ing it the per­fect spot to spend an af­ter­noon.

Gisborne of­fers a fas­ci­nat­ing mix. Re­mote yet ac­ces­si­ble, peren­nial home to our big­gest pro­duc­ers, yet in­creas­ingly at­tract­ing at­ten­tion for its smaller, in­no­va­tive la­bels, it’s a re­gion well worth ex­plor­ing for a taste of spe­cial char­ac­ter.

The rich his­tory and rugged re­mote­ness have left a colour­ful legacy.

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