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WairarapaWairarapa

Wairarapa

Wairarapa (meaning glistening waters in Maori) is a compact yet diverse region, with numerous boutique producers offering a range of varieties and producing wine of exceptional quality.

Key statistics

1,090

Total Producing Hectares

1%

Proportion of Total NZ Production (Tonnes)

27

Total Number of Varieties Grown
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Characteristics

Climate
1,915 hours of average annual sunshine. 979 millimeters of average annual rainfall. A semi-maritime climate sheltered by the westerly Tararua Ranges, and exposed to blustery, devigorating winds, Wairarapa experiences cool springs and autumns plus hot summers with cool nights: this wonderful combination of pronounced diurnal differences and a long growing season confers intense varietal character and complexity. Ideal winter/spring rainfall patterns and long, dry autumns create perfect conditions for late harvest and botrytised wines.
Soil
Predominantly silt loam over free-draining gravels, some of which can be up to 15m deep courtesy of the rivers criss-crossing the region. Clay loam and limestone feature in certain vineyards and vignerons work hard to match their varieties with soil profiles. North to south, Masterton’s gravel river beds offer local limestone, Gladstone’s more variable silt loam has clay pockets whilst the shallower river terraces of Martinborough and nearby Te Muna are highly sought after.
Masterton
Masterton is the largest town in Wairarapa, and was the first area grapes were planted in the region, over a century ago. The valley is shadowed by the Tararua ranges, and early morning frosts are common, contrasted by incredibly hot summer days. This diurnal range produces complex and flavourful wines, with Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir the dominant varieties.
Gladstone
Just south of the district’s largest town, Masterton, blessed with free-draining river terraces and a cooler climate with plenty of sunshine, Gladstone is a fast growing subregion with room to expand. Some clay amongst the stony silt loams suits the predominant Pinot Noir very well, alongside lively Sauvignon Blanc and impressive Aromatics. The Harvest Festival each March showcases Gladstone’s bounty.
Martinborough
A picturesque colonial village focussed on wine, surrounded by vineyards tended by small, frequently family-owned producers and with a climate and soil profile similar to Burgundy, it’s no wonder Martinborough has excited the wine world. Acclaimed Pinot Noir, vivid Sauvignon Blanc, poised Aromatics and elegant Syrah are all produced. The most southerly subregion, with free-draining soils and a cool, dry climate.
Primary varieties
48% Pinot Noir, 36% Sauvignon Blanc, 7% Chardonnay, 4% Pinot Gris

About the region

Wairarapa (Maori for ‘glistening waters) is a compact yet diverse region of boutique producers offering high quality examples of a wide range of varieties, supported by a vibrant, wine-focused community.


The three main subregions (Martinborough, Gladstone and Masterton) share broadly similar climate and soils yet also offer subtle differences in character for the discerning palate to explore. A range of styles and varieties are on offer with standout Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Aromatics as well as stylish Chardonnay, Syrah and dessert wines.


With a fascinating early settler history, vines were first planted in 1883 though fell victim to the temperance movement in 1905 (a 1903 Masterton wine tasted 82 years later was pronounced “Alive and well…”). Wairarapa’s modern wine history dates from the late 1970s plantings of Martinborough producers Dry River, Martinborough Vineyard, Ata Rangi and Chifney (now Margrain). Wairapara has just 3% of New Zealand’s land under vine, and 1% of its total production yet boasts some of New Zealand’s most iconic and sought after producers.


A fairly short and definitely scenic drive from Wellington, and a mere 30km from the sea both south and east, Wairarapa offers a range of wine tourism pursuits and pleasures with plenty of unique accommodation and dining options.

Exhibitors with wines from this region

Haha Wine Company

Haha Wine Company

New Zealand, Havelock North
 
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