A Pioneering Spirit
Hawkes Bay, a pioneering winemaking region, has for many years made a significant contribution to the New Zealand wine industry in terms of both quality and quantity.
Hawkes Bay is home to New Zealands oldest winemaking establishments. The Mission Vineyard was founded by the Catholics Society of Mary in 1851 and remains under the same management today and Te Mata Estate, the oldest winery still operating in New Zealand, has been erected in stages since the 1870s. The Church Road Winery is another of the early Hawkes Bay wineries, which was built in the late 1890s.
The region continues to be at the forefront of the New Zealand wine industry, exploring new varieties, producing a greater range of high quality wines and extending the New Zealand wine experience.
A Winemakers Climate
Hawkes Bay has some of New Zealands's highest sunshine hours, providing the region with a key advantage for successful grape growing. The growing seasons are generally low in humidity with continued heat through until April which is ideal for late maturing varieties such as Cabernet sauvignon and Riesling.
It has a relatively dry climate with the rugged Kaweka and Ruahine Ranges offering good protection from moisture carried by the prevailing westerly winds. The wide range of soil types in the region offer Hawkes Bay another prime viticultural asset. In recent years the focus for the new planting has moved to inland areas on the margins of the Heretaunga Plains, which offer low vigour vineyard sites.
The Hawkes Bay climate is perfect for all the premium grape varieties. Chardonnay and the Cabernet Sauvignon blends from Hawkes Bay are clear leaders in the New Zealand wine industry, with Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and sweet dessert wines also commanding high recognition.
The excellent climate and growing conditions have allowed the successful development of all the classical grape varieties to a very high degree of quality.
Hawkes Bay has a number of sub regions which offer unique conditions for grape growing and wine making.
Te Mata / Havelock North
This very attractive area comprises hill sites which are rich in calcium and river flats with stony soils. the resulting fruit is ripe, rich in flavours and of very high quality.
Taradale / Meeanee / Brookfields
Situated just over a kilometre from the coast, the soil type in this area is silty loam with fertility ranging from light to moderate. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are two varieties ideally suited to this location.
Haumoana / Te Awanga
A unique Hawkes Bay coastal strip tucked in beside Cape Kidnappers. The area is virtually frost free with deep, underlying river shingles, warm, early ripening conditions and constant sea breezes.
Fernhill / Ngatarawa / Ohiti
This area is characterised by soils with a high gravel content and a low capacity for holding water. Irrigation management controls vine vigour, resulting in very ripe fruit flavours across a range of varieties and vintages.
Mangatahi / Maraekakaho
This sub region is dominated by the Ngaruroro River with most vineyards situated on old river terraces consisting of shingly, free draining soils. These soils have low fertility, resulting in reduced vigour vines which produce award winning wines.
Esk Valley / Bay View
At the northern end of Hawkes Bay, vineyards thrive with an ideal combination of shelter from surrounding hills and exposure to sea breezes. The temperate climate of this sub region and its reputation for early ripening, has led to a recent increase of plantings and wineries.
Dartmoor / Puketapu
A picturesque and sheltered inland valley with its own micro climate. River gravels and calcareous silts from the surrounding limestone hills and river terraces offer a variety of vineyard soil fertility.