About the country New Zealand
New Zealand's wine industry is not big by international standards but it punches well above its weight in terms of quality. Viticulture officially got its start way back in 1819 when Samuel Marsden planted vines for sacramental purposes in Kerikeri. But the arrival of wine enthusiast James Busby in the Bay of Islands in 1833 marked the real start of winemaking in New Zealand. Busby had learned the craft in Bordeaux, and had written two books on grape growing and winemaking. Plants from his family’s vineyard in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, were used for the vineyard he planted at Waitangi in 1833. It wasn't until 1973 that the first Sauvignon Blanc vines were planted in Marlborough. And in the late 1980s, this prescient move was replicated with the planting of Pinot Noir in Central Otago; both are now home to world-class wines that spearhead NZ's profile in the cutthroat world of international wine marketing.
Recent industry figures show that Sauvignon Blanc still accounts for about 70% of New Zealand's wine production and 85% of all New Zealand wine exported. And interestingly, the seemingly hugely popular Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris varieties actually account for only around 8% and 6% respectively. But happily, New Zealand's export statistics don't tell the whole story. Up and down the country, hardworking winegrowers are engaged in a sort of accelerated evolutionary process of discovery. They're discovering the best clones of the best varieties in the best vineyard sites in the country's best winegrowing regions. And that's to say nothing of the increasingly sophisticated approach taken by our leading winemakers. The result of all this hard work, experimentation and learning, is that there has never been so much good (and great) New Zealand wine to enjoy as there is right now.