- Discovering the Joys of New Zealand Wine

Hawke's Bay Wine Region

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Hawke's Bay is located on the east coast of the North Island. The wine area fans out around the cities of Napier and Hastings to the south and west of the bay. Napier is a tourist destination with amusement parks and other family activities. It is also known internationally for its concentration of Art Deco architecture. In 1931, the city was leveled by a devastating earthquake. Over the next decade the city was rebuilt during the era of Art Deco style.

For wine, Hawke's Bay is similar to Napa Valley in that it is both one of the traditional wine regions in New Zealand and one of the hot areas for new wineries. Commercial vineyards were started in the 1800's and have gone through the various boom and bust cycles. Over the past quarter century, new wineries have been sprouting up utilizing the latest in science and technology in the winery and the vineyards. The new wineries run the full spectrum from backyard vineyards to major capital investments such as Sileni Estates.

On the upside, Hawke's Bay has a recognized name, ideal for marketing. On the downside, it has not had the blockbuster breakout wine to put it firmly on the world map like Marlborough. With its warmer climate, Hawke's Bay is able to grow the warm, red varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot in addition to the usual white varietals of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

It remains to be seen whether the climate is consistently warm enough for Hawke's Bay to be a top Cabernet producer year after year. The wine industry has been identifying the micro climates in the area and developing appellations. Central Hawke's Bay is a cool weather zone and Gimblett Road is a warm climate area. The producers, such as C J Pask Winery, are looking for Gimblett Road properties for the red plantings and as a label designation.

Here is the list of wineries: