The wine of North Canterbury
North Canterbury's unique climate, soil and winemaking philosophy contribute to the wineries in Waipara producing consistently good wines. While the area is more well known for strong robust Pinot Noirs and Reislings, other varieties are starting to stand-out in wine circles.
Waipara Valley, North Canterbury is nestled in the lee of Teviotdale Hills providing protection from the chilly ocean winds whilst capitalising on the warm winds from the north. Long sunshine hours in the summer and dry cool autumns provide the perfect grape growing conditions.
The first grapes in the Waipara region were planted in 1981 by farmers wanting to diversify their crops. Nowadays the region is well-renowned for its production of Pinot Noir, Riesling and Chardonnay. The focus remains on quality versus mass production with the region regularly receiving many wine acolades.
The Waipara Valley has 3 general sites - valley floor, hill slopes or river terraces. With soil types comprised of gravely deposits, limestone derived clays and gravely loams over alluvial subsoil depending on what area of the valley the vineyards are situated in.
The soil conditions gives each vineyard unique characters that contribute to a range of wine styles. The "terroir" combined with the long, hot autumn periods helps produce unique richer spicer regional specialities of Pinot Noir and Riesling. Other varieties produced in the area include Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Savingnon Blanc.
Omihi Hills is part of the Torlesse group of limestone deposits. Viticulturalists planted Pinot Noir here due to French experience of the affinity between the grape type and chalky soil on the Cote-d'Or.