Fast facts about the New Zealand wine industry

Tucked away in a remote corner of the globe is a place of glorious unspoiled landscapes, exotic flora and fauna, and a culture renowned for its spirit of youthful innovation. There's no shortage of good wine in New Zealand, and with over 40 varieties across 10 regions, there's something for every palate. ​

 

Read on for some fast facts about the New Zealand wine industry.

  • Map of New Zealand identifying its wine regions
    New Zealand wine regions
    New Zealand produces 1% of total world wine production (by volume)
  • New Zealand is about 1,500 km long, with a population outweighed by sheep (Human - 4.8 million / Sheep - 27 million) 
  • The furthest point inland is just 130km from the sea, meaning no matter where you are in New Zealand you will experience a maritime climate.
  • The North Island is considered subtropical, with a more continental climate in the South Island
  • In the south the Southern Alps provide a barrier from Australian weather extremes
  • Sustainability is an integral part of the New Zealand wine industry - 96% of New Zealand’s vineyard area operates under independently audited sustainability programmes (read more about Sustainability focus here)
  • Organics is a growing community, with 10% of New Zealand wineries holding organic certification​
  • New Zealand has no nuclear power stations, over 80% of its electricity is from renewable sources, with a goal of 90% by 2025
  • Significant plantings of vines only began in the 1970s​ and in 2020, there are over 700 wineries, over 80% of which export to international markets​
  • Wine regions span latitudes of 36 and 46 degrees​
  • Youth of the land means New Zealand has an enormous variety of soils, still in the throes of being weathered by climate and vegetation​
  • Soils are young and volcanic​
  • Wine regions mainly established on young soils (most are less than 10,000 years old) of silt, sand, gravel and stonier alluvial soils, deposited by flowing water across the coastal flood plains

 

HISTORY OF NEW ZEALAND WINEMAKING

1819     

  • First vines planted in Northland 

1840     

  • James Busby produces New Zealand’s first wine at Waitangi 

1840s   

  • New immigrants from Europe arrive and set up vineyards in Canterbury and Nelson 

1895 

  • New Zealand government commissions a report on the prospects of winegrowing in New Zealand encouraging a rush to plant vines 

1900s   

  • New Zealand government invests in research, viticulture and phylloxera-resistant vines 
  • Total area under vine is 387 hectares, producing 4.1 million litres 

1950s   

  • New immigrants from Europe arrive and enthusiasm for food and wine increases 

1970s   

  • The demand for quality wine increases and many hybrid vines are replaced with classical varieties that are grafted to phylloxera-resistant rootstock 

1973     

  • Montana sets up in Marlborough and this region becomes the largest grape-growing area of New Zealand with Sauvignon Blanc as a premium variety 

1980s   

  • The New Zealand wine industry begins to promote itself overseas

1990s   

  • 130 registered wineries with total vineyard area of 6,000 hectares and total production of 57.7 million litres. New Zealand wines achieve export success in Europe, the USA and Asia 

1994     

  • 64% of all wine exports are to the UK 

1997     

  • First wine industry to establish a nationwide sustainability programme

2000s   

  • 358 registered wineries, area under vine has doubled within 10 years 

2001     

  • Screwcap initiative launched to promote and educate producers on the benefits of  screwcap closure as a quality alternative to cork 

2002     

  • New Zealand exports to the UK, the USA and Australia reach over NZ$200 million 

2010     

  • New Zealand Wine exports exceed NZ $1 billion in value

2020     

  • 716 registered wineries with the total production 297 million litres and exports at NZ$1.8billion in value

WINE REGIONS OF NEW ZEALAND

Northland

71 TOTAL PRODUCING HECTARES

<1 TOTAL PRODUCTION (000 TONNES)

<1%PROPORTION OF TOTAL NZ PRODUCTION (TONNES)

Northland key varieties


























www.nzwine.com/northland

Auckland

319TOTAL PRODUCING HECTARES

2TOTAL PRODUCTION (000 TONNES)

<1%PROPORTION OF TOTAL NZ PRODUCTION (TONNES)

Auckland key varieties


























www.nzwine.com/auckland 

Gisborne

1,192TOTAL PRODUCING HECTARES

16TOTAL PRODUCTION (000 TONNES)

4%PROPORTION OF TOTAL NZ PRODUCTION (TONNES)

Gisborne key varieties


























www.nzwine.com/gisborne

Hawke's Bay

5,034TOTAL PRODUCING HECTARES

37TOTAL PRODUCTION (000 TONNES)

9%PROPORTION OF TOTAL NZ PRODUCTION (TONNES)

Hawke's Bay key varieties


























www.nzwine.com/hawkesbay

 

Wairarapa

1040TOTAL PRODUCING HECTARES

4TOTAL PRODUCTION (000 TONNES)

1%PROPORTION OF TOTAL NZ PRODUCTION (TONNES)

Wairarapa key varieties


























www.nzwine.com/wairarapa

 

Nelson

1,102TOTAL PRODUCING HECTARES

12TOTAL PRODUCTION (000 TONNES)

3%PROPORTION OF TOTAL NZ PRODUCTION (TONNES)

Nelson key varieties


























www.nzwine.com/nelson

Marlborough

27,808TOTAL PRODUCING HECTARES

305TOTAL PRODUCTION (000 TONNES)

76%PROPORTION OF TOTAL NZ PRODUCTION (TONNES) 

Marlborough key varieties


























www.nzwine.com/marlborough

 

North Canterbury

1,369TOTAL PRODUCING HECTARES

12TOTAL PRODUCTION (000 TONNES)

2%PROPORTION OF TOTAL NZ PRODUCTION (TONNES)

North Canterbury key varieties


























www.nzwine.com/northcanterbury

 

Waitaki Valley, North Otago

59TOTAL PRODUCING HECTARES

<1TOTAL PRODUCTION (000 TONNES)

<1%PROPORTION OF TOTAL NZ PRODUCTION (TONNES)

Waitaki Valley key varieties


























www.nzwine.com/waitaki

Central Otago

1,903TOTAL PRODUCING HECTARES

12TOTAL PRODUCTION (000 TONNES)

3%PROPORTION OF TOTAL NZ PRODUCTION (TONNES)

Central Otago key varieties


























www.nzwine.com/centralotago

​ 

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