Nelson Wine Region

This picturesque region, found on the northern tip of the South Island, benefits from high sunshine hours, a sheltered, moderating coastal climate and free-draining, semi-fertile soil.

Nelson is a boutique wine region producing outstanding Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and aromatics, as well as an impressive mix of emerging varieties.

Long renowned for it's bountiful crops and orchards, Nelson's wine roots were cultivated in the mid-1800s, when German settlers planted the areas first grape vines to produce wine.

Pioneering 1970s producers established the modern wine industry – with iconic names such as Seifried and Neudorf still going strong.

Nelson has a vibrant artistic and café culture, with many wineries offering both draw-cards at their cellar doors.

Being slightly off the beaten track a visit offers a wonderful sense of tranquility and relaxation.

Nelson wine subregions

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.

Pinot Noir show structure with fine tannins, Chardonnay has complexity and depth, and Sauvignon and aromatics offer a mineral intensity.

It is this location where Nelson’s early pioneers first planted, and it remains the source of some of its finest wines today.

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 aromatics are vibrant, with a flinty mineral undercurrent.

Winestyles and planting information

Sauvignon Blanc

A more elegant, restrained expression of this variety, displaying lovely texture and minerality alongside crisp, vivacious tropical fruit with fresh herbal nuances.

Pinot Noir 

Whether weighty in Moutere or pretty in Waimea, Nelson Pinot is always expressive and perfumed, with fine, ripe tannins and complex depths.

Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris is expressive and fine with poised acidity and rich flavours. The climate allows for a variety of styles.


Depth, elegance and complexity are hallmarks of the best Nelson Chardonnay and the fruit is remarkably pure and intense. Top wines have great longevity.

Visiting Nelson

The Nelson Tasman region has an enviable Mediterranean and sunny climate that allows visitors to explore and enjoy all year round. The region is home to a prominent artisan community, with an abundance of wineries, breweries, artists, galleries and cafes available for visitors to experience firsthand. Nelson Tasman also delivers an exceptional outdoor scene with plenty of hiking, kayaking, cycling, fresh seafood and fishing, three national parks, and two of New Zealand’s “Great Walks.”

You will find remarkable wine experiences spread across the two sub-regions; the Waimea Plains and the Moutere Hills. Although the Hills and Plains are within minutes of one another, it is recommended to spend a day or two exploring each on its own for a memorable wine holiday. For more information on visiting Nelson, see

Find Nelson wine near you

Learn more about Nelson wine

New Zealand Wine Textbook
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