The mix of high sunshine, verdant landscapes, fascinating history, a laidback lifestyle and the exciting range of wine styles makes Gisborne a beguiling destination for the wine traveller.
- NZ’s third largest producer, though its relatively remote location has given a lower profile than size would suggest. Those making the journey east are rewarded with a diverse range of wines from flavoursome entry-level to critically acclaimed biodynamic classics. a dynamic food and wine scene completes the picture.
- Rich in history, Gisborne can claim Captain Cook’s first landfall as well as being the first place in New Zealand to see the sunrise. Vines were first planted in the 1850s with the modern industry soundly established from the 1960s onwards, when Montana (now Pernod Ricard NZ), Penfolds and Corbans Wines built wineries. Large producers still feature but Gisborne is shaking off its history of bulk production: small-scale quality producers and entrepreneurial growers experimenting with new varieties and sites point to its future.
- Chardonnay is the dominant variety and enjoys great success, with Pinot Gris a close second though a very wide range of red and white varieties are successfully established and new varieties always trialled. Hillside land is being explored and matched with new varieties and clones; Gisborne’s renaissance is fully underway.
For wonderful local recipes and to keep up with the latest foodie news in Gisborne, check out this blog: https://thegisbornegourmet.wordpress.com/
SOURCE: New Zealand Winegrower's Vineyard Register Report & Annual Report
Plantings and Styles (2014)
Can be challenging in the climate but drier years give fleshy, flavoursome reds. Other heavier red varieties e.g. Malbec enjoy success in carefully chosen sites.
Sauvignon Blanc 56ha
Very tropical, ripe and bold styles with broad palates though early picked styles can be lighter, herbaceous and zesty.
Highly aromatic, with rich, lush palates bursting with fruit. Delicious simple early-drinking styles a specialty, though the top, most intense wines have real longevity.
Pinot Gris - 381ha, Gewürztraminer - 157ha, Viognier - 84ha
Gewürztraminer a highlight with well-textured, strongly aromatic, spicy wines; some excellent perfumed Riesling and Chenin Blanc; promising Pinot Gris and Viognier.
Sparkling wines successful (home to Lindauer cellars); Semillon does well. Pinot Noir, Pinotage, fortified and dessert styles also stand out amongst an eclectic selection.
North of the city, where the river valley narrows into the Raukumara Ranges, site of Gisborne’s original plantings and some of today’s best vineyards and wines, producing numerous single-vineyard wines. Warmer, slightly drier with silt-loams prevailing. home to ‘The Golden Slope’, a 10km elevated, gently-sloping free-draining, sandy escarpment with limestone-influenced topsoil, producing some of Gisborne’s best Chardonnay.
Around one-third of region’s vines are here, a legacy of Montana’s strong expansion. A warmer inland site to the west of the city, with lower rainfall (on average 30% decrease) and well-draining higher and sloping clay and silt soils. Very good Gewürztraminer though a wide range of varieties overall - richly flavoured with good texture and body.
Vines first established in the 1890s. South of the city, closer to the coast and enjoys sea breezes. Well-drained sandy, silt soils with some heavier complex Kaiti clay to the hillier west suiting Chardonnay; closer to the river conditions can be ideal for botrytised wines as well as finely-textured aromatic wines.
Map key Subregion Vineyard
Find Gisborne wine near you
High sunshine hours and a warm climate (regularly recording some of the highest sunshine and temperatures in NZ) see Gisborne’s grapes frequently the country’s first to be harvested. Late summer/autumn rainfall can test producers though recent advances in viticultural techniques and site selection make this less of an issue. Surrounding ranges provide inland shelter; sea breezes cool coastal sites.
SOURCE: MetService climate summary 1971-2000
The youthful, very hilly landscape fans out into the lush lowland flood plains of the Waipaoa River giving a mix of clay and silt loams with fine silt river loams (giving aromatic wines) and heavier clay soils on the plains (fleshier wines). Site selection has moved away from very fertile flood loams towards the higher better-drained parts of the plains and foothills.