New Zealand Wine Catalogue 2022New Zealand Wine Catalogue 2022
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Gisborne rewards those who take a trip east with a diverse range of wines, from full-flavoured and fruit-driven, to critically acclaimed biodynamic classics.

Key statistics


Total Producing Hectares


Proportion of Total NZ Production (Tonnes)


Total Number of Varieties Grown


2,180 hours of average annual sunshine. 1,051 millimeters of average annual rainfall. High sunshine hours and a warm climate (regularly recording some of the highest sunshine and temperatures in New Zealand) see Gisborne’s grapes frequently the country’s first to be harvested. Late summer/autumn rainfall can test producers though recent advances in techniques and site selection make this less of an issue. Surrounding ranges provide inland shelter.
The youthful, very hilly landscape fans out into the lush lowland flood plains of the Waipaoa River giving a mix of clay and silt loams with fine silt river loams (giving aromatic wines) and heavier clay soils on the plains (fleshier wines). Site selection has moved away from very fertile flood loams towards the higher better drained parts of the plains and foothills.
Vines first established in the 1890s. South of the city, closer to the coast and enjoys sea breezes. Well drained sandy, silt soils with some heavier complex Kaiti clay to the hillier west suiting Chardonnay; closer to the river conditions can be ideal for botrytised wines as well as finely textured aromatic wines.
Around one third of region’s vines are here, a legacy of Montana’s strong expansion. Patutahi’s warmer inland site to the west of the city, with lower rainfall (on average 30% decrease) and well draining higher and sloping clay and silt soils. Very good Gewurztraminer though a wide range of varieties overall - richly flavoured with good texture and body.
North of the city, where the river valley narrows into the Raukumara Ranges, site of Gisborne’s original plantings and some of today’s best vineyards and wines, producing numerous single vineyard wines. Warmer, slightly drier with silt loams prevailing. Home to ‘The Golden Slope’, a 10km elevated, gently sloping, free-draining, sandy escarpment with limestone influenced topsoil, producing some of Gisborne’s best Chardonnay.
Central Valley
The Hexton Hills, between the Ormond Valley and Gisborne city itself, feed into the Central Valley subregion. The hills comprise a narrow strip of plantings running from heavy clay in the Ormond and Hexton Hills, into limestone in the foothills. Across the valley to the Waipaoa River, the Central Valley is a mixture of clay, loam and silt soils.
Primary varieties
42% Chardonnay, 23% Pinot Gris, 20% Sauvignon Blanc, 2% Merlot, 1% Gewurztraminer

About the region

The mix of high sunshine, verdant landscapes, fascinating history, a laidback lifestyle and the exciting range of wine styles makes Gisborne a beguiling destination for the wine traveller.

Those making the journey east are rewarded with a diverse range of wines from flavoursome entry-level to critically acclaimed biodynamic classics. A dynamic food and wine scene completes the picture.

Rich in history, Gisborne can claim Captain Cook’s first landfall as well as being the first place in New Zealand to see the sun rise. Vines were first planted in the 1850s with the modern industry soundly established from the 1960s onwards, when Montana
(now Pernod Ricard NZ), Penfolds and Corbans Wines built wineries. Large producers still feature but Gisborne is shaking off its history of bulk production; small-scale quality producers and entrepreneurial growers experimenting with new varieties and sites point to its future.

Chardonnay is the dominant variety and enjoys great success, though a very wide range of red and white varieties are successfully established and new varieties are always trialled. Hillside land is being explored and matched with new varieties and clones; Gisborne’s renaissance is fully underway.

Exhibitors with wines from this region

Craggy Range

New Zealand, Hawke's Bay, Havelock North
New Zealand Wine Catalogue 2022New Zealand Wine Catalogue 2022
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