The first vines in New Zealand were planted in the Bay of Islands by the missionary, Reverend Samuel Marsden in 1819.
In the late 1800's, the Croatian gumdiggers arrived in Northland, bringing their European tradition of winemaking. This has been the foundation of the New Zealand wine industry, with many of today's successful wine companies able to trace their lineage back to Northland.
Its northern location and closeness to the sea (nowhere is the sea more than 50 kilometres away) give the Northland region an almost subtropical climate - humid, sunny and warm. With the country's highest average annual temperature, the total amount of heat available to the vines to ripen their grapes during the growing season is greater in Northland than in any of the country's other wine regions. Soils are mainly clay-rich loam soils over a sub-soil of compact clay, with most of the region's land lying below 150 metres.
In terms of wines styles, the regions tropical Chardonnays, popular Pinot Gris and vibrant Viogniers are leading the white wine growth, whilst red wines include spicy Syrahs, stylish Cabernet / Merlot blends, peppery Pinotages and complex Chambourcin.
*photo credit Karikari Estate