Distinct contrast is the key when discussing the Marlborough wine region's agriculture, in both the soil and the climate. With the mountains to the west and water to the east, the area gets a lot of sun. How much? The town of Blenheim has the most sunshine of any place in New Zealand, coupled with low average rainfalls [source: Wine Marlborough]. The warm, sunny summer days -- with a pleasant seasonal average temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius) -- give way to cool nights. This day/night contrast makes a perfect environment for the grapes. It enhances the grapes' acidity and flavors and gives them better color [source: Discover Marlborough].
The soils of the Wairau Plain and Awatere Valley are traditionally poor for growing. They aren't very fertile and are full of stones and sand [source: Wine Marlborough]. However, one person's trash is another person's -- or in this case, grape's -- treasure. This quickly draining, shallow soil is ideal for grapes and their vines, which thrive in growing conditions that would cause many other plants to wither.
Meanwhile, in Kaikoura, the area near the coast, the soils are much more chalky and full of sandy limestone from the sea. It's a bit cooler here, but the area gets a tad more sun than the Wairau Plain or Awatere Valley, allowing the grapes to ripen slowly and evenly [source: Discover Marlborough].
Read on to discover what kinds of wine are popular in New Zealand's leading wine-producing region.