The Waipara Valley is in the south island of New Zealand, 40 minutes drive north of
Christchurch International airport and Christchurch City. It is the fastest growing wine region in New
Zealand with more than 80 vineyards in the valley and over 800 hectares of vines planted.
Its latitude equates to that of the south of France in the northern hemisphere. On the east side of the valley lie the Omihi Hills that protect Waipara from the cooling winds of the Pacific Ocean. To the west lie the Southern Alps from whence the region's famous hot nor'west winds derive. Its sheltered position, but proximity to the sea, give it warm days, cool nights and a dry autumn, resulting in a very prolonged ripening period. This promotes intense flavor development and optimal ripeness, while retaining good natural acidity.
Soils in the region range from silt to stony alluvial soils close to the Waipara River to chalky clay loams that are often rich in limestone on the hillsides. Due to Canterbury's slightly cooler climate and clay soils, the grapes grown here are likely to have more primary fruit characters than Marlborough, 3.5 hours to the north.
Canterbury/Waipara is New Zealand's fourth largest wine region. Grapes were first planted in Waipara 20 years ago; in the last five years interest in the area has exploded and many large, new vineyards are being established.
Pinot Noir and Riesling are the most widely planted varieties in Waipara, totaling about 60%. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris are also important varieties in the region.
The fascinating diversity of local terroir, sites and producers is the greatest strength of the Waipara Valley and the key to the characterful wines produced here. The proximity to top tourism attractions-- thermal hot spring resort Hanmer Springs and the seaside town of Kaikoura, famous for whale watching, are both within an hour's drive. Each year the region's producers come together the last Sunday in March for the Waipara Wine and Food Festival held in the historic Glenmark Church grounds.
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