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Ultimate Guide to the Canterbury Wine Region

History and Culture of the Canterbury Wine Region

Originally inhabited by the Maori people, New Zealand was settled in the 1840s by Europe­ans, decades after British sea captain James Cook explored the area. Christchurch, the oldest city in New Zealand, was incorporated in 1856 [source: History Channel, Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism]. The French were the first to plant vines in the area, but vineyards did not become strongly established until the 1970s [source: Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism, Ministry of Heritage and Culture].

Vineyards began to grow densely in Canterbury, specifically around the Christchurch area and northern part of the region. Now, with the backdrop of pristine mountains and hills and the hustle and bustle of city markets, wildlife viewing and recreational activities, the South Island's prime city offers more than just a taste of wine culture on its city streets [source: Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism].

Today, it's possible to do everything from paddle back into history in traditional Maori canoes, hike on trails among breathtaking scenery and end the day with wine tasting [source: Sbrocco]. You can even venture down North Canterbury's food and wine trail to experience the best of the best in this culture-rich region [source: Scoop].

What makes this trail so unique from other wine trails that have enticed wine enthusiasts from around the world? In our next section, explore the agriculture and viticulture of the Canterbury region and find out how Christchurch's nickname, "Garden City," influences the wine that the region produces.