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New Zealand winemakers prep for bicentenary celebrations

Published:  24 September, 2019

Not many wine regions can claim to know exactly when the first vine was planted in their country.

New Zealand winemakers however are officially celebrating the day they believe the very first vine was planted in New Zealand soil, thanks to the records of a Reverend Samuel Marsden.

According to wine historians, tomorrow (September 25), is the day that the Marsden planted the country’s first vine in the grounds of the Stone Store, Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands – and recorded the act in his books for future generations.

Winemakers in the country are now preparing to celebrate the way the industry has grown with a number of events in Northland, including a ceremonial re-planting at the historic Stone Store, New Zealand’s oldest surviving stone building.

In his diary, Marsden is known to have said “New Zealand promises to be very favourable to the vine, as far as I can judge at present of the nature of the soil and climate. Should the vine succeed, it will prove of vast importance in this part of the globe.”

Two hundred years later, the New Zealand wine industry has grown to become a $1.83 billion export earner, with an international reputation for premium, diverse and sustainable wines.

Throughout the 19th and early 20th century, a significant number of European immigrants came to New Zealand to set up vineyards in different regions.

Today, many of the country’s delineated wine regions can be traced back to these early plantings. New Zealand’s wine industry currently consists of over 700 wineries and more than 600 grape growers.

Sauvignon Blanc is now the most widely planted variety, accounting for 76% of total production, followed by Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

New Zealand Winegrowers association said it is focusing on sustainability and innovation as a way of ensuring the “next 200 years” of New Zealand winemaking.

Over 98% of New Zealand’s vineyard producing area is now Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand (SWNZ) certified.