General Information: When the first growers planted grapes in Marlborough in the 1970s (there is evidence of plantings as early as 1870s), it is unlikely they would have foreseen the extent of the growth and fame that the region’s wine industry would achieve, based upon a single varietal called Sauvignon Blanc. The distinctive pungency and zest fruit flavors of the first Marlborough wines, in particular Sauvignon Blanc, captured the imagination of the country's winemakers as well as international wine commentators and consumers and sparked an unparalleled boom in vineyard development. Worldwide interest in Marlborough wines, particularly Sauvignon Blanc, has continued to fuel that regional wine boom. The region currently has 23,600 hectares of land planted with planted grapes. These plantings are primarily located within the Wairau Valley. Marlborough is now the largest wine producing region in the country, 79% of New Zealand’s total active wine production.
Climate:Marlborough is one of New Zealand’s sunniest and driest areas. In these bright, but relatively ‘cool’ climate conditions, the grapes have the advantage of a long slow, flavor-intensifying ripening period. The average daily temperature during summer is nearly 24 degrees C but clear cool nights keep acid levels high in the grapes. Marked diurnal (day/night) temperature variations are a key factor behind the ability of Marlborough grapes to retain both fresh, vibrant fruit and crisp, herbaceous characters. The contrast between day and night also helps to enhance the color development in the skins of Pinot Noir.
Soil:Within the region, viticulture has been developed primarily on sites with moderate low fertility and a noticeably stony, sandy loam top soil overlying deep layers of free-draining shingle, as found in the viticulturally developed areas of the Wairau and Awatere Valleys. These shallow, fast draining, low fertility soils help to produce a lush, aromatic ripe wine because they reduce the vines vigour. Where a more herbaceous style is desired, sites with greater water retentive soils and moderate fertility are chosen.
Grapes:New Zealand red wines are typically made from a blend of varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and much less often Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec), or Pinot Noir.
In white wines Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc predominate in plantings and production.