Waipara Valley is in North Canterbury in the south island of
New Zealand, 40 minutes drive north of Christchurch International
airport and Christchurch City. Whereas
New Zealand is mostly known for
Waipara also produces premium
Pinot Gris, and
Its latitude equates to that of the south of France in the northern hemisphere.
On the east side of the valley lie the Omihi Hills that protect
from the cooling winds of the Pacific Ocean. To the west lie the Southern
Alps from whence the regions famous hot norwest winds derive. Its
sheltered position, but proximity to the sea, give it warm days, cool
nights and a dry autumn, resulting in a very prolonged ripening period.
This promotes intense flavor development and optimal ripeness, while
retaining good natural acidity.
Soils in the region range from silt to stony alluvial soils close to the
Waipara River to chalky clay loams that are often rich in limestone on the
hillsides. Due to Canterburys slightly cooler climate and clay soils,
grapes grown here are likely to have more primary fruit characters than
Marlborough, 3.5 hours to the north.
New Zealands fourth largest wine region.
Grapes were first planted in
Waipara 30 years ago; in the last 10 years
interest in the area has exploded and many large, new
vineyards are being
Pinot Noir and
Riesling are the most widely planted varieties in
totaling about 60%.
Sauvignon Blanc and
Pinot Gris are also
important varieties in the region.
The fascinating diversity of local
terroir, sites and producers is the
greatest strength of the
Waipara Valley and the key to the characterful
wines produced here. Then there is the proximity to top tourism attractions -
thermal hot spring resort Hanmer Springs and the seaside town of Kaikoura,
famous for whale watching, are both within two hours drive. Each
year the regions producers come together in March for the
Wine and Food Festival held in the historic Glenmark Domain.