only emerged on the international wine scene fairly recently. In fact the Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, which are responsible for much of the country’s reputation today, were only recognized in the 1990’s.
However, the country’s wine history dates back over a century. In 1840, when the Treaty of Waitangi formalizing the incorporation of New Zealand within the Commonwealth was signed, the first bottle of wine had already been produced. Many immigrants, explorers or missionaries have contributed to the development of winemaking since the first vines were planted in New Zealand in 1819. British, French and Croats all in turn contributed to the growth of viticulture in New Zealand throughout the 19th century. However the country was then hit by fungal vine diseases and Phylloxera and this greatly slowed the growth of the emerging industry.
Wine production only really took off during the Second World War. Import taxes were increased and the State facilitated the growth of the sector. In 1960-70, New Zealand received massive investment from the United States and Australia, allowing it to improve its methods and the quality of its wines, which at the time were mainly light, fruity, slightly sweet wines made from Muller-Thurgau.
In the 1990’s, following the elimination of tariffs on the import of foreign wines, the New Zealand wine industry had to compete with wines from Australia. It therefore developed its export strategy and its sales soured from NZ $ 18 million in 1990 to NZ $ 1.5 billion in 2015, as a result.
New wine estates appeared, from the north of the North Island to Central Otago on the South Island, and today there are around 670.
According to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine, New Zealand was the 17th biggest wine-producing country (by volume) in 2015, representing approximately 1% of world production.