The English navigator James Cook (1728-1779) took possession of the land consisting of two main islands for England in 1769. In 1819, the Anglican missionary Samuel Marsden (1765-1838) planted the first vines he brought back from Australia near Kerikeri on the northeast coast of the North Island. When Charles Darwin (1809-1882) went ashore in 1835 from the ship Beagle at this very spot, he saw (as he later wrote) healthy vines. James Busby (1802-1871), who had already founded Australian viticulture, planted a vineyard not far from there near Waitangi. He produced the first significant quantities of wine and is considered the first producer. The wine-growing area around Auckland was created by immigrants from Dalmatia, and Croatian families are still an integral part of New Zealand viticulture today. They were also the founders of Montana and Nobilo, which today are among the largest New Zealand wineries.
The Italian oenologist Romeo Bragato (1858-1914), through extensive travels, identified the areas best suited for viticulture and was later appointed State Director of Viticulture. In this capacity he founded a research institute. In 1876, powdery mildew was introduced and in 1895 phylloxera. Romeo Bragato made a special contribution to the fight against the insect. As a measure, mainly phylloxera-resistant hybrids were planted; still in 1960 the most common grape variety was the red Isabella (here called Albany Surprise). From the end of the 19th century until 1919 there was a prohibition (ban on alcohol) decided by referendum, the change for abolition was brought by returning soldiers. Until the 1970s, however, the consumption of wine in public was prohibited in transport vehicles (trains, buses, etc.), theatres and airports, among other places.
Until 1960 there were bizarre laws, so only hotels were allowed to sell wine and a single person could buy a maximum of twelve bottles. It was customary to dilute wine with water, which was not prohibited until 1980. But since then, New Zealand's winegrowing has experienced a great upswing in terms of quantity and above all quality. The wine law is based on the Australian one. If a grape variety is indicated on the label, at least 75% of that variety must be included. The regulations for wine making are very liberal. Allowed are enrichment, deacidification and acidification. The cellar master enjoys a higher reputation than the one responsible for the vineyard. There are no yield restrictions and artificial irrigation is allowed without restriction. The fertile soil is largely of volcanic origin. There is abundant rainfall in summer and autumn. The climate is quite different between the warmer North Island and the colder but sunnier South Island.
Viticulture remained restricted to North Island until 1973. In South Island, the Otago region is home to the southernmost vineyards in the world. New Zealand is also the most eastern winegrowing country due to the near dateline. The "Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Act 2006" replaces the old geographical designation and registration law. The wine-growing areas extend from north to south across the two islands over a length of around 1,200 kilometres. The hierarchical structure is Country (New Zealand), Zone (North Island, South Island, East Coast), Region and Sub-Region. The regions in this order are:
North Island with capital Wellington
South Island with its capital Christchurch
In 2012, the area under vines covered 38,000 hectares, of which 1.940 million hectolitres of wine were produced. This is a huge increase of almost four times compared to 2000 with 11,000 hectares (see also under Wine production volumes). It is worth mentioning New Zealand's role as a pioneer in the use of screw caps as early as the 1980s. In 2001 the "Screwcape Initiative" was founded. And in 2005, two out of three New Zealand bottles were already filled with screw caps. White wines are produced to about 70%. The best are the Sauvignon Blancs from Marlborough, which have established New Zealand's fame. A good part of them are Bag-in-Box-Wines. From the 1960s onwards, European varieties were promoted, especially the Müller-Thurgau initially caused a sensation and was the most common grape variety for a long time. Today it ranks at the lower end in terms of area and is used primarily for simple mass wines. The grape variety index 2010:
|Gewürztraminer / Traminer||white||-||311|
|Muscat Blanc / Muscat Dr. Hogg||white||-||135|
|Tribidrag / Zinfandel||red||-||4|
|Garnacha tinta||red||Grenache Noir||2|
In Lincoln, South Island, the Centre for Viticulture and Oenology is a department of Lincoln University. In 1975 the organisation WINZ (The Wine Institute of New Zealand) was founded, but has since been renamed NZ Winegrowers. This has had an enormous impact on the quality and image of New Zealand viticulture. All wineries must belong to it. The four dominating farms with around 90% of production are Corbans, Montana, Nobilo and Villa Maria. Other well-known producers are Ata Rangi, Babich, Cloudy Bay, Goldwater Estate, Gravitas, Hunter's, Isabel Estate, Jackson Estate, Kemblefield, Kumeu River, Lincoln, Martinborough Vineyard, Matawhero, Matua Valley, Millton, Mission Estate, Morton Estate, Nautilus, Neudorf Vineyards, Ngatarawa, Pask, Palliser Estate, Pegasus Bay, Rippon, Seyfried Estate, Stonecroft, Te Mata, Millton, Trinity Hill, Vidal Estate, Waimea Estates, Wairau River.