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 grapevines he had brought with him from Australia near Kerikeri on the north-east coast of the North Island. When Charles Darwin (1809-1882) went ashore from the ship Beagle at this very spot in 1835, he saw (as he later wrote) healthy vines. James Busby (1802-1871), who had already founded Australian viticulture, planted a vineyard not far away at Waitangi. He produced the first significant quantities of wine and is considered the first producer. The wine-growing region 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 Wines and Nobilo, which today are among the largest New Zealand wineries.
The Italian oenologist Romeo Bragato (1858-1914) identified the most suitable areas for viticulture through extensive travel 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 earned special merits in the fight against the insect. As a measure, mainly phylloxera-resistant hybrids were planted; as late as 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 Prohibition (alcohol prohibition) passed by referendum, the turnaround for the abolition was brought by returning soldiers. Until the 1970s, however, the consumption of wine in public was prohibited, among other things, in transport vehicles (trains, buses, etc.), theatres and airports.
Until 1960, there were bizarre laws, for example, only hotels were allowed to sell wine and a single person could purchase a maximum of twelve bottles. It was common to dilute wine with water, which was only banned in 1980. Since then, however, New Zealand's viticulture has taken off in terms of quantity, but above all in terms of quality. The wine law is based on the Australian one. If a grape variety is indicated on the label, at least 75% of this variety must be included. The regulations for vinification are very liberal. Enrichment, deacidification and acidification are permitted. The cellar master is held in higher esteem than the person responsible for the vineyard. There are no yield restrictions and artificial irrigation is allowed without restrictions. 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 confined to North Island until 1973. In South Island, the southernmost vineyards in the world are located in the Otago region. New Zealand is...