With over 20,000 hectares of land now planted in vines (around two-thirds of New Zealand’s total), Marlborough
has long been recognised for its flagship Sauvignon Blancs: vivid, pure, fruit-driven, aromatic and herbaceous and tropical. These days, other varieties are moving from strength to strength: dark cherry, plummy, spicy Pinot Noirs; well-structured, complex and intense Chardonnays; and pure, vivacious aromatics, including Rieslings, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminers. More recently, Gruner Veltliner, Voignier, Syrah and Methode Traditionelle are showing promise as this ‘new world’ region continues to mature.
The key to Marlborough’s wine-growing success is its deep, gravelly soils laid down by millennia of glacial activity. The region’s unique braided rivers have left behind a legacy of riverbank and riverbed soils; from sandy loams to very deep gravels. Soils vary greatly within the region, from heavier, clay-based soils in the southern valleys (ideal for growing Pinot Noir), to stony, alluvial soils towards Rapaura and loamier, more water retentive soils in the Lower Wairau Valley and Awatere.