Top 5 Facts to Understand New Zealand Wine

New Zealand is a remote island isolated in the Pacific Ocean, and a now-famous producer of wines, particularly those made from Sauvignon Blanc.

But not only!

Watch my Top Facts about NZ Wine in Video:

Learn more what makes the essence of NZ wine with these 5 Top Facts and information about Kiwi vino:

1- The grapes of New Zealand wine

80% of New Zealand wine is white against obvious a 20% for reds.

62% of all NZ wine is Sauvignon Blanc (77% of white wines).

The second most-important grape variety in the country is Pinot Noir, with 15% of New Zealand’s wine output.

Top grapes after SB and PN are Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Merlot. While of course, other grape are grown but in rather small quantities, such as Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, or Gewurztraminer.

2- The regions of New Zealand wine

New Zealand’s wine regions extend 1,600km (1000 miles) from sub-tropical Northland (36° S) down to Central Otago (46° S), home to the world’s most southerly vineyards.

The climates between the different wine regions, generally quite separate from each other over the two islands, are therefore varied.

Marlborough produces nearly 70% of all NZ wine and is most famous for its Sauvignon Blanc wines.

Hawke’s Bay accounts for 12% of the countries wine production, mainly making tasty Chardonnays, Merlot and cabernet blends, as well as spicy Syrah wines. The climate here is rather warm and Mediterranean, helping with ripening grapes and producing rich reds.

Central Otago makes a variety of grape varieties in its dry yet relatively cold climate and extreme temperature variations. The area is particularly renown for its Pinot Noir and represents 5% of the ‘Made in New Zealand’ wine in volume.

Wairarapa (Martinborough) and Waipara both accounts for 3% of the production, while other areas such as Gisborne or Auckland are significant but small overall.

3- Wineries of New Zealand, Wines to try

New Zealand counts with 2 major brands and groups producing wine at a large scale and exporting in important volumes.

Two are internationally owned:

– Pernod Ricard (Brancott)

Brancot Estate: As early as 1973, they planted the first grapes at Brancott Vineyard against the local belief that the South Island was too cold to cultivate grapes. They planted their first Sauvignon Blanc in 1975 and released the first ever Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc in 1979.

They make a wide range of affordable Sauvignon Blanc, their most high-end cuvee being the Chosen Rows Sauvignon Blanc.

– and Constellation Brands/Vincor (Nobilo/Kim Crawford):

and two are New Zealand-owned:

Villa Maria:

Delegat’s/Oyster Bay:

Iconic wineries of New Zealand also include:

Kumeu River makes rguably the best Chardonnays in New Zealand:

Craggy Range:

Also, my personal favorites Te Mata:

Church Road:

Dry River:

Also, my personal favorite Ata Rangi:

Cloudy Bay:

Also, my personal favorite Clos Henry:

Rippon Vineyard in Central Otago:

and Two Paddocks, by Jurassic Park actor Sam Neill:

4- Top wine NW wine-drink countries

NZ exports more than 80% of the wines it produces, mainly to the four following countries (percentage of NZ wine exports between brackets as follows):

29% United Kingdom (UK)

28% United States of America (USA)

22% Australia

So, 80% of all Kiwi wine exports go to the above 3 countries alone!

The next (fourth) export market being Canada with 5% only of total wine exports.

This explains why out of these four countries; New Zealand wine can be hard to find

5- Wine Tourism in New Zealand

Wine tourism in important in New Zealand. 279 wineries offer a total of 479 wine tourism experiences in the country. There are a little over 700,000 wine tourists every year in New Zealand, spending 3.8 billion dollars! Wine tourists in New Zealand come mainly from the US, Australia, and China.

So, if you ever visit New Zealand, make sure to plan a few winery visits, or stop by along the road at a cellar dour.

Check out all wineries and available activities on

Bonus fact:

New Zealand is the 16th largest wine-producing country after Hungary and Brazil.

300 million liters or 400 million bottles. 1% of the global wine production.

There are about 500 wineries in New Zealand.

As a comparison, Bordeaux wine region counts 6600 wine growers, and produces 600-700 million liters of wine, so the Bordeaux region of France alone (15% of France’s wine output) produces twice as much wine as New Zealand!

Learn More about New Zealand wines:

New Zealand Wine: Map, Regions, Grape Varieties, History and more

Watch a Presentation Video of New Zealand

Also make sure to check out all of our New Zealand wine reviews.

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