There are roughly 24,700 acres (10,000 hectares) of farmland within the Canterbury region, and it is New Zealand's largest section of rich lowlands and prime farming ground [source: Statistics New Zealand, Cuisine]. And as wine was a more than $900 million industry for New Zealand in 2007, it seems appropriate that that this bountiful region would be responsible for a big chunk of that industry [source: NZ Wines, Sluys].
The region as a whole is divided into two areas -- the Waipara region in the north and the Christchurch region farther south [source: Cooper]. When researchers at Lincoln University began investigating the soil quality and possibility of establishing vineyards in the Canterbury region in 1973, they determined that Riesling and Chardonnay could be top producers [source: Cuisine]. Even the trickier Pinot Noir, known for its earthy, yet light and fruity aroma and taste, was said to perform well in the region, finding its roots among the well-drained soils [source: Isle].
Cultivated by years of oceanic settling and change, soils in Canterbury are sandstone, silt and limestone-heavy varieties. All of these soil types work well with favorable sun and moderately cool climate to produce the wide range of grapes grown here [source: Holding, Canterbury Winegrowers Association].
If you're ready to sample some of Canterbury's famous wines, move onto the next section to learn about the region's finest.