Expertise, understanding and a pioneering spirit have ensured success in the recent past and should continue to do so into the future. The story of the South Island may begin with Sauvignon Blanc, when it was planted here in the 1970s, but the plot has since thickened. Chardonnay has thrived, Riesling has produced some notable results and the Pinot Noir of Central Otago has set pulses racing. All three produce wonderful wines, but it is the sublime Sauvignon Blanc that remains the hero.
Climate and Conditions
Most of the wine-producing regions of the South Island shelter from the westerly winds behind the Southern Alps, and although this keeps off the worst of the cold it also denies the vines the rainfall they need. Irrigation is often required, especially in the Marlborough district, and this is a troublesome business. Nelson, which is not so protected by the mountains, has the opposite problem in the shape of autumnal rain.
Spring frosts are a risk throughout the region. It is fair to say that winemaking on the South Island requires dedication and expertise, but no one can deny that the results are worthwhile.
Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling are the most important grapes.
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