Ultimate Guide to the Auckland Wine Region

Auckland is home to one of New Zealand’s oldest wine companies. See our collection of wine pictures.
iStockphoto/Xavier MARCHANT

­Auckland is one of the most well known cities in New Zealand, but few realize just what an influence the region has on the country's wine industry. When y­ou first think about it, it seems like a less than ideal area for viticulture. It's wetter than most wine regions, the terrain is far from perfect and much of the land has been settled for commercial and housing uses. In fact, the Auckland wine region accounts for less than 5 percent of New Zealand's total area devoted to vine­yards. So how can Auckland be as important as it is in the world of New Zealand winemaking?

Despite the factors mentioned above, Auckland is home to many of the country's most respected -- and oldest -- wine companies. If you're wondering how that works since they don't grow very many grapes in Auckland, the answer is simple -- they just import the grapes from other regions [source: Cooper]. This makes the wine of Auckland less about the grapes that grow there -- since few do -- and more about the final product -- the wine. Rather than being restricted by what they couldn't make because of what they couldn't grow, Auckland's wine companies opened up local production by using non-local grapes.

­There are almost no indigenous wines from the re­gion - Auckland's mainstays are wines similar to those produced all over the world. Rather than making new varieties of wine, or growing new breeds of grapes, Auckland has mastered old recipes. It now boasts quality Chardonnays and Merlots, among others [source: Four Corners]. Perhaps this niche for the classics is a result of the heritage of their industry -- European settlers planted the grapes many years ago [source: Cooper].

Despite the unique challenges of making wine there, Auckland has found success and is becoming increasingly better known for producing high quality wine.