The English navigator James Cook (1728-1779) took possession of the country consisting of two main islands for England in 1769. In 1819, the Anglican missionary Samuel Marsden (1765-1838) planted the first grapevines near Kerikeri on the northeast coast of the North Island, which he had brought with him from Australia. 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 the Australian viticulture, established a vineyard not far away at Waitangi. He produced the first considerable amounts of wine and is considered to be the first producer. The wine growing area around Auckland was created by immigrants from Dalmatia, even today Croatian families are an integral part of New Zealand's viticulture. They were also the founders of Montana Wines and Nobilo, which are among the largest New Zealand wineries today.
Italian oenologist Romeo Bragato (1858-1914), through extensive travel, identified the areas best suited to 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 earned special merits in 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 (alcohol prohibition) decided 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, such as 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 not banned until 1980. However, since then, New Zealand's viticulture has boomed quantitatively, but above all qualitatively. The wine law is based on the Australian one. If the grape variety is indicated on the label, at least 75% of this variety has to be included. The specifications for vinification are very liberal. Enrichment, deacidification and acidification are permitted. The cellar master enjoys a higher reputation than the one responsible for the vineyard. There are no restrictions on yields and artificial irrigation is permitted 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 confined to North Island until 1973. In South Island, the southernmost vineyards in the world are located in the Otago region. New Zealand is...