Nel­son wines com­ing of age

Nelson Mail - - Front Page - Katy Jones [email protected]

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.

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