June 17, 2021

The Rising Popularity of New Zealand Pinot Gris

It’s no secret that New Zealand excels when it comes to white wine. The narrow geography of our two main islands means that none of our wine growing regions are more than an hour or so from the coast.

This intense maritime influence combined with long sunshine hours, cool nights and some of the most southerly latitudes in the wine world, creates the perfect climate to craft white wines of delicacy, finesse and freshness.

Pinot Gris has only been a part of the New Zealand wine landscape since the 1990s, yet it’s one of the few white varieties other than Sauvignon Blanc to steadily increase in plantings and production. Now the third most planted variety, it makes up 6% of our total wine production.

Most Pinot Gris clones here originated in Germany, Switzerland and South Africa, and the wine style is closer to Alsace than Italy, which is why we tend to call it “Gris,” not “Grigio.”

The warmer climate of the North Island produces Pinot Gris that is richer in aromatics and texture with bold baked pear, apple, honey and spice characteristics. In the South Island, where the majority of Pinot Gris is grown, the wines walk a fresher, more delicate line with less honey and more fresh fruit flavors.