It is International Pinot Noir Day on 18 August, which is good reason to take a quick look at how fast Pinot has grown in New Zealand.
There are 5653 hectares of Pinot Noir in New Zealand’s national vineyard area, which represents 72% of all red wine grapes planted in this country. It’s massive growth in a short time – more than tenfold, in three decades, to be precise.
Back in 1987, there were 524 hectares of Pinot Noir in New Zealand and Central Otago was still a glint in the eye of a few ambitiously determined wine lovers.
Not that Central is the be all and end all of New Zealand Pinot Noir.
Its vineyards are 80% devoted to this red grape; a percentage that shows no sign of changing in the foreseeable future, but other South Island regions are also producing high quality Pinot Noir – North Canterbury, Marlborough, Nelson and the Waitaki Valley. And Wellington’s nearest wine country, the Wairarapa, is home to a small trickle of high quality Pinot Noir too – in Martinborough, Gladstone and the northern Wairarapa around Masterton, which is where Pinot Noir in this country all began in 1883 with early plantings at Lansdowne by William Beetham and his French wife, Marie Zelie Hermance Frere Beetham. Their early love of wine and planting of Pinot Noir inspired a new lease of life for a Lansdowne Pinot Noir and there is now a small scale production of this outstanding wine produced each year by Derek Hagar and his family, who planted their first grapes in 2002. Find out more about Lansdowne Estate Pinot Noir here.