Ultimate Guide to the Canterbury Wine Region

New Zealand’s Canterbury wine region is one of the world’s most picturesque wine settings. See our collection of wine pictures. ­
iStockphoto/Linda & Colin McKie

­Nestled against the southern slope of the Alps, the low, fe­rtile spread of land known as the Canterbury region is an environmental jewel resting on New Zealand's South Island. Beginning in Northland (in the north, of course) and running down to Waipara before ending in the southern city of Central Otago, this large region covers a long stretc­h of varied landscape, climates and vineyards [source: Cooper]. The terroirs of Canterbury can be broken up into 10 different regions, all with their own special flavor.

With coastal breezes and the vibrant warmth of bright days, the regions of Canterbury host all varieties of vines and grapes growing in rich, loamy coastal soils or drained and rocky former riverbeds [source: NZ Wine]. Miles of pasture and lush greenery sweep right up to the edges of pristine beaches along the East coast; this vast area has become one of the wine world's most picturesque and productive wine settings [source: New Zealand Tourism Guide]. And it's almost as if the land has been this way forever.

­When French missionaries arrived in New Zealand in the 1800s, they built churches, living quarters and towns. Wine soon followed, as vines were planted for production of the wine so crucial to the mass of the Catholic Church [source: Mission Estate Winery]. Vineyards soon flourished across the country, and today we know New Zealand as the most southern point of wine production in the world. It's also known for the variety of wines it produces, including some of the world's most appreciated Sauvignon Blanc wines [source:Gibson].