Ultimate Guide to the Hawke's Bay Wine Region

The Hawke’s Bay region of New Zealand is a major grape growing and winemaking area, coming in second for overall wine production within the country. See our collection of wine pictures. ­
iStockphoto/Peter Seager

­If you know anything about wine, then you know that the big wine producers are France, Italy and Spain. If you're ­a connoisseur, then your wine collection might include some American and Australian wines, too. But what about New Zealand? This small country of islands may not even be on your wine radar -- but maybe it ought to be. And if you are a lover of reds, you might want to hone in on winemakers from the Hawke's Bay wine region.

The Hawke's Bay wine region produces more red wines than anywhere in New Zealand, and stays a strong second in wine production overall for the country [source: Wine Hawke's Bay]. Located in the North Island, on the eastern coast of New Zealand, the Hawke's Bay wine region has some hills but is dominated by flat plains that are perfect for vineyards. The Heretaunga Plains (also Hawke's Bay's original name when it was settled in the 9th century) host the majority of the wineries in the region around the cities of Hastings and Napier [source: Wine Hawke's Bay]. Those plains see a lot of sunlight during the region's long, dry summers. The lengthy days filled with sunlight, stretching for months of summer, directly contribute to the robust red grapes that make up this region's viticulture.

­Though the region is relatively singular in climate and landscape, the soils are very diverse [source: NZ Wine Connection]. This diversity allows several different varieties of grapes to be planted there, though you'll still really only find reds in the region.

In this article, you­'ll learn about the history and culture of the Hawke's Bay wine region, as well as the agriculture that produces the perfect grapes for rich, bold reds. Though this region had a late start (in mere settlement, not to mention vine plantings and grape production) coupled with an early interest in rough fortified wines, Hawke's Bay has blossomed into a leader of New Zealand wines that are becoming popular internationally.