The fruits of a heritage industry

by Andy Bryenton

When settlers first arrived here in New Zealand from Europe, their preferred drop was usually a cold beer — or a dram of whiskey or rum for the hard-bitten sailors who dared the long trip here by tall ship. But decades of hard work and skill have built up a burgeoning wine industry here in Canterbury, and summer is the perfect time to enjoy this labour of love.

With abundant free-draining alluvial soils and unique climatic conditions, the Canterbury region was a perfect match for grape varieties sourced half a world away. Another great fit was the people who have come together to establish a strong voice for the local industry in the form of Wines of Canterbury. Their mission to support local growers and promote the fine selection of vintages cultivated here is backed up by an annual award for the best of the best — this year gold medals were won by Waipara Hills 2016 Pinot Gris, and Whistling Buoy Kokolo Pinot Noir 2015.

As the world comes around to a new way of thinking and further appreciates cool-climate wines, Canterbury and the nearby Waipara region are becoming famous for their production. So forget having to travel to the Loire Valley or Bordeaux to enjoy a wine, food and culture safari — it’s literally all just around the corner.

Wines of Canterbury lists 21 vineyards as members, with far more going on behind the scenes than just the careful cultivation of fine vintages.

Three vineyards offer accommodation, while a further four serve up cafe dining for guests. The old tradition of sampling and discussing the merits of a fine glass or two at the cellar door is upheld at no less than 16. Take a look at the Selwyn Wine and Food Trail and you’ll find plenty to occupy a sunny summer’s weekend meandering through the countryside and enjoying the visionary work of our local vintners. Visit sensationalselwyn.co.nz/wine-food/ for a free copy of the guide.

For a full list of vineyards offering food, accommodation and cellar door sales, click on canterburywine.co.nz/.