The History of New Zealand Wine

It was during the colonial times that New Zealand wines first showed up. James Busby, a British oenologist, was the first New Zealand wine producer. He came in the 1830’s and stared producing wine in Waitangi. The first vineyard was established in the mid-1800’s. However, it took a while for New Zealand wine to gain a foothold in the country; some parts of New Zealand enforced prohibition at that time, beer and spirits were far more popular than wine, and meat and dairy were more established and economically viable forms of agricultural production. Even after prohibition was over, New Zealand Wine had a hard time producing because of economic reasons.

In the late 1960’s this changed once Britain joined the EEC. Once it joined, the UK was forced to stop favorable trading with New Zealand. This devastated New Zealand’s dairy and meat industries, which were cut back drastically. Small areas still made profits, and a lot of farms turned into vineyards. When the prohibition restrictions were lifted in the 1960’s, the 24 hour sale of alcohol began, and thus the rise of wine culture began.

At the start, New Zealand wines weren’t all that popular because the grape varieties grown didn’t thrive on the land and produced bitter-tasting wines. In the 1970’s, many New Zealanders traveled to Europe for work, and those based in Italy and France benefited from the vast amount of wine expertise they could acquire. This and grapes started some of the wine producing in New Zealand.

Sauvignon Blancs, the most famous New Zealand wines today, were the first successes for New Zealand Wine growers. Thanks to almost perfect growing conditions, Sauvignon Blancs from Marlborough have been extremely well-received worldwide, and were the first hit wine from New Zealand.

Along with Argentina, New Zealand is seen as the "New New World," making its wines highly sought after, and though varying in price, relatively cheap! If you get the opportunity, give them a chance!

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