The ancient Egyptians began producing wine some 3,000 years ago. Some scholars believe that the fermenting of grapes into wines wine dates back even further. In New Zealand, grapes and winemaking arrived much later.Around 1836 the first grapes were brought into New Zealand by a very keen ‘amateur’ winemaker, James Busby, New Zealand’s British Resident. The oldest existing vineyard is Mission Estate in the Hawke’s Bay, which was established by the Roman Catholic Missionaries.
By the 1960’s New Zealanders had become a nation of travellers. A strong desire to bring some of the “old world” culture back home led to a growth in appreciation for viticulture. Dalmatian immigrants in the rural areas surrounding Auckland set up orchards, vineyards and wineries to supply the growing local market.Young winemakers who had worked in European, American and Australian wineries brought back skills of the “Old World” traditional European winemaking. Combining this with the science-based “New World” winemaking that was being developed in USA and Australia the New Zealand wine style was forming.
Over the last 30 years the New Zealand wine industry has turned into a $1.2 billion annual export value with over 34,000 hectares of vineyard. But unlike our Australian neighbours New Zealand has not become a “bulk” producer, instead remaining a boutique wine-producing nation with very high quality product.
Of course the best thing about New Zealand wine is enjoying a glass while taking in the beautiful surroundings of our un-touched natural landscape. Here are some images that will have you booking the next available flight.