New Zealand extends 1,600km (1000 miles) from sub-tropical Northland (36° S) to the world’s most southerly grape growing region Central Otago (47° S).
Vineyards benefit from the moderating effect of the maritime climate (no vineyard is more than 120km, or 80 miles, from the ocean) with long sunshine hours and nights cooled by sea breezes.
New Zealand wine is distinctive for its purity, vibrancy and intensity. The long ripening period - a result of cool temperatures - allows flavour development whilst retaining fresh acidity, a balance for which New Zealand wines are renowned.
New Zealand produces less than 1% of the world’s wine and is largely produced in ten major wine growing regions. They are, from north to south Northland, Auckland, Waikato/Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Wellington, Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury/Waipara and Central Otago.
New Zealand is home to what many wine critics consider the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc. Oz Clarke, a well-known British wine critic, wrote in the 1990s that New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc was "arguably the best in the world" (Rachman).