The most famous wine region of the north island, and the second largest wine producing region in New Zealand, Hawkes Bay is one of the oldest areas, with grapes, for fortified wines planted there in the 19th century. Situated centrally, on the eastern coast of the North Island, it has developed a strong reputation for top quality red wines, and arguably produces the finest Cabernet Sauvignons and merlots in the country.
About The Hawkes Bay Wine Region
The climate is not dissimilar to that of Bordeaux, with long hours of sunshine, but with the cool, continental coastal influence. There is a unique soil style in this area, based on an area of pure gravel, which was left on a strip of land, after the river Ngaruroro changed its course in 1867, after a flood. There are now some top wines, coming out of this region, and labelled legally as Gimblett Gravels, since 2001. This small area lies 12 miles west of the town of Hastings and inland from the Pacific Ocean. It is a protected area, in terms of climate, and the gravel soils, combined with the climate make it a centre for some of New Zealand’s very top reds, mainly in the Bordeaux style, although since 2010, there is also some top Syrah. The combination of heat retaining, but free draining gravel, and the rich, warm, sandy soils, make for ideal conditions.
In order for a wine to be labelled Gimblett Gravels, the wine must be produced from a minimum 95% grapes grown in this small, demarcated area. There are now over 30 producers making wines under this denomination.
Overall Hawkes Bay is home to some of New Zealand’s best known producers, including Te Mata, Esk Valley, Craggy Range, Villa Maria, Vidal, CJ Pask, Trinity Hill and Babich.