Stretched out over seven degrees of latitude, the North Island produces a wide range of styles. As a general rule of thumb, anything from Bordeaux or Burgundy will thrive in the region and make wines to compete with their homeland. Certain red grapes, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, will excel here but struggle on the South Island.
Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are the prominent whites, whilst Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir fly the flag for the reds. Gewürztraminer and Muscat have a presence and the results of Syrah are eagerly awaited. Müller-Thurgau is a hangover from the past that is being replaced by the more noble and profitable French vines.
It is warm, which allows for ripening of the grapes, but also uncomfortably moist. Autumnal rainfall is particularly hazardous and can lead to mildew and the rotting of grapes. Hawkes Bay and the Wairarapa avoid this rainfall, but instead have to contend with spring frosts and wind respectively. The soils are varied and some, such as the alluvial Gimblett Road gravels, are superb for the growing of vines.