Henderson, along with Kumeu & Huapai, are all located to the west of Auckland city & have a long winemaking tradition. More recently vineyards have been planted in Matakana to the north, Clevedon to the south & Waiheke Island, to the east in the Hauraki Gulf.
West Auckland, first planted with grapes in the 1900's, remained NZ's main wine region until the 1960's. Most of the vineyards were small & owned by families of Dalmatian (Croatian) origin - their legacy lives on today in names such as Babich, Delegat, Selak & Nobilo.
THE BIG PLAYERS
Montana, Villa Maria & Nobilo Group are all based in Auckland, each producing over 2 million litres annually from grapes sourced nationally; along with companies such as Babich, Coopers Creek, Matua Valley & Morton Estate, all producing over 200,000 litres annually.
Northland Wine Region
Main Varietals: Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Vigonier, Pinotage & ChambourcinRed French hybrid, first released in 1963: deep-colour with full aromatic flavour, in a dry or moderately sweet style (SHAM-bor-san)
Sub-Regions: Grape planting began in the 1990's, with vineyards now scattered over three districts: Kaitaia, in the far north, Bay of Islands & Whangarei
Sub-Tropical Climate: Northland is mild & humid: summers ranges from 22-26°C, with a low diurnal range, while winters are almost frost-free. With no immer landmass it can be quite windy, with tropical cyclones bringing heavy rainfall. A challenging region for grapes, though drier micro-climates do exist
Matakana Wine Sub-Region
Location: North of Auckland & west of Warkworth, with rolling hills leading down to the Hauraki Gulf
22 varietals are grown in Matakana: ½ are rare & unusual, while ¾ are red. NZ's primary varietals have proved unreliable in this climate, encouraging a search for alternatives - main varietals include Pinot Gris, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc & Chardonnay while unusual varietals include SangioveseClassic Italian red: strawberry & spice flavours when young, taking on oaky, tarry flavours when aged (san-joe-VAY-zee), Albariño (Spain & Portugal), CarmenereOld Bordeaux varietal: spice & berry aromas, softer tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon (car-min-YEHR), Tannat (SW France), Roussanne (Rhone) & FloraWhite Californian hybrid (1938): a cross between Semillon & Gewürztraminer
In the Vineyard - from Flower to Fruit
Spring climatic conditions can directly affect the quantity of fruit set, as grapes are wind-pollinated - low temperatures, strong winds & rainHeavy rain can make the cap stick to the flower, hindering fertilization. It can also degrade pollen & prevent it from spreading can all reduce yields considerably
• Flower buds
• Open flowers
• Flower close-up
• Fruit set
• Millerandage - 'hen & chicken' bunches of mixed berry sizes, caused by poor fertilisation
• Coulure - fruit fails to set properly & drops off, caused by a nutrient imbalance
For the next stage in fruit development - veraison - see our Pinot Noir page