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Canterbury’s heart is the picturesque and very English city of Christchurch. The region is dominated by the vast and empty Canterbury plains, which sweep from the magnificent Southern Alps of New Zealand to the east cost of the South Island.
While a relatively new wine region – the first vineyard was planted in 1977 – Canterbury is becoming well known and appreciated for its Riesling and Pinot Noir wines. The soils of the region are stony and alluvial. The climate is hot and dry in summer, and often cool, clear and frosty in winter.
The Canterbury wine region is New Zealand’s fourth largest with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grape varieties making up nearly 60% of the region’s vineyards, Riesling comes in third as the most popular grown variety with Sauvignon Blanc in fourth place.
Almost all of Canterbury’s wineries can be reached after a short drive from Christchurch. They are, however, located over a number of areas. To the east of Christchurch are the wineries of Banks Peninsula, to the south are those of Burnham, and to the north are those of the rapidly expanding Waipara sub-region. Of these areas, Waipara is creating the most excitement and is fast becoming internationally recognised for the production of very good quality Riesling wines.