Nelson wines coming of age
Nelson has overtaken Central Otago as the country’s fourthbiggest wine-producing region, according to new data from the industry.
The amount of grapes harvested here for wine production rose by 36 per cent this year compared to last year, making up 3.1 per cent of New Zealand’s total, the figures from New Zealand Winegrowers show. This was just above Central Otago’s 3 per cent.
The country’s powerhouse wine region remains Marlborough, which produced 76.6 per cent, followed by Hawke’s Bay’s with 9.3 per cent and Gisborne with 4.1 per cent.
In Nelson, grapes used to make sauvignon blanc, gewurztraminer, sauvignon gris, syrah, viognier and Albarino saw the biggest rise in volumes, with production up across nearly 90 per cent of varietals.
Recently elected chairman of Nelson Winegrowers, Paul Miles, said the rise was partly down to better growing conditions last season. But it also reflected a growing demand for the region’s wine, which was gaining recognition for its high quality.
‘‘We provide a lot of varietals very well,’’ said Miles, who coowns the Riwaka River Estate vineyard. ‘‘It is a fantastic region for growing grapes – we have a great climate, we have exceptional skills from the growing right through to the winemaking.’’
Nelson is home to around 30 wine producers, with most producing at least three varieties.
The region’s wine market was ‘‘definitely buoyant’’, Miles said. ‘‘We’ve focused a lot on creating information that allows wine critics to come here. Word is getting out now that we really are a serious wine-producing region.’’
Gary Neale from Brightwater Vineyards, which has won trophies for its pinot noir, chardonnay and riesling, said Nelson’s climate allowed wine producers to nurture a wide range of grapes.
The quality of Nelson wine had been under-recognised, and changes in the local industry,
‘‘It is a fantastic region for growing grapes.’’
Paul Miles, Nelson Winegrowers chairman
with some wineries being taken over, were ‘‘refreshing’’, he said.
Nelson was getting more recognition for pinot noir, he said, with vines maturing and yielding good results.
Judy Finn, director of Neudorf Vineyards, said production varied each year, but Nelson was growing as a wine region.
‘‘There is increasing investment in the region and large wineries – from, say, Booster having taken over Mahana and Waimea Estate.’’
The region’s wineries worked well together, she said. ‘‘This is the Provence of New Zealand.’’
The area would do well to have a ‘‘glamour winery’’ with an international marketing budget that was prepared to invest in the region, to help promote it, she suggested.