New Zealand – what comes to your mind when you hear this country’s name? We’re sure nature's best sceneries and that lovely Sauvignon Blanc with grassy aromas must be rolling in your mind. No doubt, there’s nothing as blissful as a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Having won numerous trophies and medals in the past three decades, this variety, along with Pinot Noir, has gained much attention in international markets. No wonder, New Zealand wines are dominating the American market. But have you ever wondered, how this island country, sitting in one of the extreme corners of the world, has marked its presence in the global wine industry? At the first glance, New Zealand wine history might seem very short to you, but there’s so much that the country has to offer. Here’s the story of New Zealand wines.
It’s widely said and accepted that Anglican missionary Samuel Marsden directed New Zealand’s first grape plantings in 1819. These grapevines were planted by Superintendent of Agriculture Charles Gordon on the Bay of Islands sites, such as Kerikeri, Rangihoua, Russell and Waitangi. Winemaker Scotsman James Busby bought grapes from these vineyards and crafted New Zealand’s first wine (A light and delicious sparkling white) in 1840, becoming the first winemaker of the country.
Controls on Alcohol
Despite seeing a boom backed by the government, wines were banned completely in some areas of New Zealand due to the temperance movement in 1908. In 1917, restaurants were also restricted from selling wine.
The wine industry gained its charm once again in the 1930s and 50s when duties on imported wines increased during the Second World War. The industry witnessed spectacular growth during the 1960s when heavy investments were done by Australian and American companies. More vineyards were planted during the 1960s and 70s in Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne and Marlborough (where most New Zealand vineyards are located today), and the wines produced heavily exported. It was in the 1990s that the country’s Sauvignon Blanc gained a worldwide reputation and the country hasn’t looked back since.
And that's our lesson on New Zealand Wine History. Watch this space and we’ll soon be covering all the wine regions of New Zealand. In the meanwhile, check out some great New Zealand wines at Just Wines.