Located in the South Island, Canterbury is probably best known for its rugby roots rather than it vinous ones, but since the mid-1990s, the wines have grown in popularity almost as fast as the plantings in the region.
Canterbury has a muddled viticultural history with many failed attempts since 1840 to establish vineyards. Another more successful attempt was made in the 1970s, with Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir proving particularly suitable.
Incorporating the sub-regions of Waipara, Burnham and Banks Peninsula, the Canterbury climate is super-cool. It is cooler than the Champagne region in France and has one of the latest harvest dates in New Zealand. It is susceptible to spring frosts; therefore early ripening varietals are best suited to the region. On the other hand, it means the grapes enjoys long ripening periods through the dry autumns that help to concentrate fruit flavours, and keep acids balanced. This is particularly true of the stand out sub-region, Waipara.
The soil profiles vary throughout the region. The more southern areas have alluvial silt loams over gravelly sub-soils, whilst regions like Waipara, are rich in limestone and chalk loams. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the most notable varietals from the region, but lovely Riesling and Pinot gris are also produced. Style wise, the Chardonnays are rich and textured whilst the Pinot Noirs are complex with red berry, earth and slight stems influence.
Located in the South Island, Canterbury is probably best known for its rugby roots rather than it vinous ones, but since the mid-1990s, the wines have grown in popular...