Home of the first vine plantation, Northland is the birthplace of viticulture and wine making in New Zealand.
It's nearly 200 years since Reverend Samuel Marsden dug the first grapevines into the rich Northland soil, in the historic town of Kerikeri. He was followed by Scotsman James Busby, credited as the ‘father’ of Australian wine industry, who established a vineyard near the historic Treaty Grounds in Waitangi. Later they tradition of European winemaking was continued by Croatian gum diggers, who arrived in Northland in the late 1800s.
This was the foundation of the New Zealand wine industry. And although the winemaking tradition lapsed for nearly a century in the region, the last decade has seen a resurgence of vineyards with small plantings near Kaitaia, Kerikeri, Russell and Whangarei.
Wineries in the far north are a showcase for heat-loving grape varieties, owing to the region’s sub-tropical climate. You’ll find ripe, well-rounded whites, sensational syrah and substantial, savoury cabernet/merlot blends.
Most of Northland’s vineyards and wineries have cellar doors. Expect the person pouring the wine at tastings to have seen the whole process through from nurturing the vines, to fermenting and bottling. This makes the experience richer, as you hear stories about the region’s heritage and the craft of winemaking.
Karikari Estate is New Zealand’s northernmost vineyard that looks over rolling coastal land. Marsden Estate is one of the most established vineyards in the area comprising pinot gris, chardonnay, merlot, malbec, pinotage, chambourcin and syrah tempranillo. Te Whai Bay Wines in Mangawhai produce handcrafted, high quality wines in limited quantity. A pioneering winegrower in Whangarei, Longview Estate has acquired many awards and accolades in the recent years – putting them on your Northland Wine Trail is highly recommended.
Wine discovery in Northland is further enriched by its fresh cuisine, featuring an abundance of seafood, avocados, macadamia nuts, citrus and sub-tropical fruits.