CANTERBURY WINE REGIONS UNITE

Over 60 wineries in the Canterbury region have come together with the merger of Wines of Canterbury and Waiara Valley Wine Growers. The new group, called the North Canterbury Wine Region, was finalised in August and spans an area from just south of Kaikoura to north of the Rakaia River, which included Banks Peninsula.

Catherine Keith, owner of Mount Brown Estates and chair of the new association, said that the wineries will be working in “cooptetion” in promoting the region. “We feel that Christchurch hasn’t quite grasped what a great wine region they have on their doorstep,” she said. “We’re very well known for our aromatics – that is riesling, pinot gris and sauvignon blanc – and the pinot noir coming out of North Canterbury is also amazing. We share similar conditions to Burgundy, which is the home of pinot noir in France, with limestone soils and a similar climate, so we’re producing some really great pinot noirs.”

The merger was prompted by the amendment in 2017 to the Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Act 2006.

“Without those geographical indicators, someone in Canterbury could call their wine Marlborough estates or something similar, which is passing off as something else, but was completely legal,” Keith said. “The implementation of those indicators are coming into effect now, which is great to safeguard the characteristics associated with certain regions.”

Wine Marlborough general manager Marcus Pickens was supportive of the move, saying that it would increase competition within the wine industry as well as creating opportunities for collaboration.

“Ultimately, we are very collaborative as an industry and achieve the same thing,” he said. “It seems natural that they would work together to achieve the same purpose.”