Beautiful, sunny Nelson is a must-visit for any wine visitor with its tiny yet thriving high-quality industry illustrating perfectly the region’s long history of horticulture and artistic endeavours.
- Nelson has a gentle sun-drenched climate and a spectacular landscape ranging from golden sand beaches to rugged, bush-clad mountains. Grapes are grown in Moutere Hills and Waimea Plains: production is small but quality is impressive overall including some superlative highlights.
- The region is long renowned for crops and orchards, with vines having been cultivated from the time of the mid-1800s German settlers. Bragato commented in 1895 on Nelson’s impressive potential but it was the pioneering 1970s producers who established the modern wine industry – and names such as Seifried and Neudorf are still going strong.
- Excellent Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and aromatics are produced with Nelson also boasting an impressive and eclectic mix of other varieties.
- Nelson has a vibrant artistic and café culture with many wineries offering the benefits of both at their cellar doors. The region’s compact size means visitors can get around most wineries in a day.
- Nelson is a scenic two hour drive from Blenheim and while its obvious quality has attracted international critical recognition, being slightly off the beaten track confers a wonderful sense of tranquillity and relaxation to the region.
SOURCE: New Zealand Winegrower's Vineyard Register Report & Annual Report
Plantings and Styles (2013)
Depth, elegance and complexity are hallmarks of the best Nelson Chardonnay and the fruit is remarkably pure and intense. Top wines have great longevity.
Sauvignon Blanc 476ha
A more elegant, restrained expression of this variety, displaying lovely texture and minerality alongside crisp, vivacious tropical fruit with fresh herbal nuances.
Pinot Noir 193ha
Whether weighty in Moutere or pretty in Waimea, Nelson Pinot is always expressive and perfumed, with fine, ripe tannins and complex depths.
Pinot Gris - 133ha, Riesling - 37ha, Gewürztraminer - 25ha
Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer are expressive and fine with poised acidity and rich flavours. The climate allows for a variety of styles.
1 Moutere Hills
To the west of the city, the verdant Moutere Hills are slightly warmer and wetter than Waimea and the gravel-threaded clay soils give richness and texture to the wines, with Pinot Noir showing structure with fine tannins, the Chardonnay complexity and depth, and the Sauvignon and aromatics a mineral intensity. This is where Nelson’s early pioneers planted and it remains the source of some of its finest wines today.
2 Waimea Plains
Summing up the sub-region beautifully, Waimea is Maori for ‘river garden’. This traditional area for arable crops, orchards and hops has seen most of Nelson’s recent vineyard expansion. With stony alluvial soils and a moderating maritime influence, wines tend to be lighter and fresher in style than Moutere with bright aromas. Pinot Noir is perfumed, Chardonnay rich and expressive and the aromatics vibrant with a flinty mineral undercurrent.
Map key Subregion Vineyard
Find Nelson wine near you
Nelson’s sheltered topography gives protection from strong winds; combined with its proximity to the sea this gives milder temperatures than other South Island regions, mitigating frost risk, though autumn rains can occasionally be an issue. Blessed with a remarkable number of clear days (regularly NZ’s sunniest region) good diurnal variation helps emphasise varietal character and the high sunlight hours give wonderful fruit purity.
SOURCE: MetService Climate Summary 1971-2000
Regional soils are broadly gravelly silt-loam over a clay base, allowing good water-holding capacity. The two main areas vary slightly in their composition: the alluvial flat, silty soils of Waimea Plains give generally lighter, prettier wines than the gently-rolling Moutere Hills, where the weathered gravels of an ancient river system sit beneath sandy-topped heavy clay-based soils, giving wines depth and richness.