April 14, 2020

Marlborough – Region Spotlight

1873 marks first the year when the records show plantings of grapes in Marlborough, yet it wasn’t until 1973, one hundred years later, when the real potential for the region was beginning to be realized.

Today Marlborough thrives on the wine industry with many support enterprises from Cheese, Agriculture, Events, Air B&B and Wine Tourism.

Today, there are 534 growers, 141 producers and around 24,000 Hectares of vines in the ground. Small compared to say a single wine-region of France yet Marlborough remains New Zealand’s largest region commanding nearly 80% of the total national production. 

Significant growth in plantings, producers and exports are fuelled by the demand for classic varieties now associated with the region such as Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris. Pinot Noir and an exciting sparkling wine sector has increased demand for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir material. Syrah is a variety not normally associated with the region but has been recognized by many local and international critics. In addition to the varieties mentioned Gruner Veltliner, Albarino and Gewurztraminer are among several other varieties showing promise. 

For new readers to The Shout – Marlborough is located at the top North-Eastern reaches of the South Island and is essentially a collection of valleys nestled between the Richmond Ranges to the East and Wither Hills to the West. The Southern Alps form immediately south of the region funnelling cool southerly winds into Marlborough. Both the Richmond Ranges and Wither Hills provide a rain shadow keeping the valley floor very dry. The mostly free-draining stony, river wash and alluvial soils mean irrigation is common practice. Organic to commercial farming is practiced across the region.

Sub-regional characteristics are beginning to show through some varieties such as Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. Tasting through the samples for this month’s feature reflect the many expressions of Marlborough’s terroir and wine-making prowess.