If you travel around the Bay of Plenty area, you'll be able to enjoy its wine history at the same time as its general history. The main wineries are located just south of Thames and speckled along the Tauranga Harbor. In New Zealand's gold-digging past, the Thames was the place to be for mining. You can explore the past as you sip a glass of wine.
As far as vine history, there is evidence that the first grapevines in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty area were planted in 1903 in the area known as Te Kauwhata. Romeo Bragato, an Italian who migrated to the area to use his viniculture skills on the land, is said to have settled here because the landscape reminded him a little of Italy. Te Kauwhata is still recognized and celebrated as a special place in the country's grapevine history.
The Bay of Plenty area has taken steps to make sure that wine and wine culture are integrated into the lifestyle of the region. So they celebrate wine here with festivals and wine challenges. Mid-March marks the annual Tauranga Boutique Wine and Food Festival, where there are opportunities to sample wine varieties with a smorgasbord of food. New Zealand, specifically the North Island and Bay of Plenty region, participates in the Great Down Under Wine Challenge, unfortunately losing to Australia in the sixth annual event in August 2008 [source: Bay of Plenty New Zealand].
Read the next page to learn about how agriculture has shaped the Bay of Plenty wine region.