New Zealand Wine Catalogue 2022New Zealand Wine Catalogue 2022
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HomeProducersWinesAppellation Marlborough WineGeographic Indications (GIs)New Zealand Overview


A combination of a cool yet high sunshine climate, low rainfall and free-draining, moderately fertile soil produces uniquely vivid wines.

Key statistics


Total Producing Hectares


Proportion of Total NZ Production (Tonnes)


Total Number of Varieties Grown


2,409 hours of average annual sunshine. 655 millimeters of average annual rainfall. Plenty of sunshine, moderate temperatures and strong diurnal variation are the keys to Marlborough’s piercing fruit intensity and strong varietal expression, keeping acid levels high over long ripening times. The eastern coastal aspect bestows cooling sea breezes and protective mountains give relief from extreme rain and wind. Long Indian summers occasionally dice with drought but more often allow a wide range of styles to flourish.
Key to Marlborough’s success is its ancient glacial deep, free-draining, stony soils. The extensive braided river system left a threaded legacy of stony sandy loam over very deep gravels. Rapaura is stoniest; lower Wairau has more loam and thus water retention. Clay is prevalent in the Southern Valleys, assisting Pinot Noir. Awatere is more fragmented, with gravelly silt loams and wind blown loess.
Wairau Valley
Old riverbed and riverbank soils, diverse aspect and rainfall give many meso-climates within this subregion. Broadly, it covers cooler, drier inland sites, barren stony, early ripening sites to sea breeze moderated coastal sites. Soils are more gravelly to the north nearer the riverbed. Within this, wines reflect the individual vineyard and producer strengths but all have the hallmark pure fruit intensity and body.
Southern Valleys
Wrapping around the surrounding hills the Omaka, Fairhall, Brancott, Ben Morvan and Waihopai Valleys make up this important subregion. Soils and meso-climates vary but tend to be heavier with more clay than Wairau and it gets cooler and drier further south into the valleys. A broad range grown according to vineyards’ individual strengths with some particularly good Pinot Noir and Aromatics.
Awatere Valley
The most geographically distinct subregion, lying south of the Wairau Valley and stretching inland from the sea, the valley climbs towards the inland Kaikoura Ranges. Cooler, drier, windier and often with a degree of elevation, sites with typically lower yields produce bright, aromatic Pinot Noir and dramatic, distinctive Sauvignons which are attracting increasing international acclaim.
Primary varieties
81% Sauvignon Blanc, 9% Pinot Noir, 4% Pinot Gris, 4% Chardonnay

About the region

New Zealand’s flagship wine region, which in combination with Sauvignon Blanc, put the country on the international wine stage. Much more than just Sauvignon though, Marlborough offers increasing depth in both varieties and terroir.

Early pioneers first planted in 1873 in the Ben Morven Valley, with further vineyards established through to the 1960s. There was then a lull until grapes were again planted in 1973, despite stiff opposition from local farming and forestry interests. Nowadays, viticulture is emphatically dominant, with over 20,000 hectares of vines (approximately two thirds of the national total) under the care of wine producers of all sizes.

Consistently ranking as one of New Zealand’s sunniest and driest regions, Maori referred to the Wairau Valley as ‘Kei puta te Wairau’ - ‘The place with the hole in the cloud’ - reflecting the outstanding protection offered by the topography.

The Wairau River bisects the valley west to east, with the Richmond Ranges to the north and medium sized foothills to the south. The auspicious combination of a cool yet high sunshine climate, low rainfall and free-draining, moderately fertile soil produces uniquely vivid wines across a wide range of varieties and styles.

Alongside the increasing range of varieties, the diverse soils and meso-climates are revealing subregions, and it is within these that Marlborough’s exciting future lies.

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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