The Maori name for Gisborne is Tairawhiti which, literally translated, means ‘the coast on which the sun shines across the water’ – but it might be more accurate to say ‘the coast on which A LOT of sun shines across the water’. Situated in New Zealand’s most easterly point, the region catches the first rays of the day and is blessed with hot sun and masses of it. Combine all that sun with clay loam soils and a maritime influence and you’ve got yourself the Chardonnay Capital of New Zealand.
Gisborne produces wonderful Chardonnay to suit all pockets and tastes. From approachable quaffing wines to intense, complex styles that waltz away with gold medals at international competitions, it’s all there. But despite the region’s self-claimed reputation as the Chardonnay Capital the grape only accounts for 50% of its plantings. The rest is mainly taken up by other white varietals. Gewurztraminer has long been hailed a success in the region and other grapes – in particular Pinot Gris – are beginning to show some promise of recognition in the future.