Ultimate Guide to the Nelson Wine Region

Nelson Wine History and Culture

So how did Nelson, now in contention with the other major wine-producing regions in New Zealand, get its name? Nope, it's not from the wrestling move or the '80s hair-metal band. You'd be closer if you recalled the name of British admiral Lord Nelson, who died in combat about 40 years before the region was founded [source: Encyclopedia Britannica].

Nelson has definitely blended wine into its strong history of art and culture. The area is known for its artists, artisans and beautiful gardens. People in the area pride themselves on being from the art hub of New Zealand. Luckily for wine growers, wine drinkers and the region's economy, wine is a perfect partner for Nelson's prominent arts scene. In fact, Nelsonians consider wine an art and a lifestyle.

The Nelson Aromatics Symposium, which features discussions, speeches, tastings, workshops and appearances by world-renowned winemakers, has become a major part of the region's wine culture. It isn't an annual event, but it holds a special place among the best of the best. The first one was held in 2007 and was a huge success, and the next symposium is scheduled for early February 2010 [source: Wine Art].

Nelson's wines haven't received as much worldwide attention as some other New Zealand wines -- like the Sauvignon Blancs from neighboring Marlborough, for instance. And though New Zealand's wine distribution and fame may pale in comparison to Australia's, the export statistics have definitely been increasing over the past decade or so. In 1996, New Zealand exported 11 million liters of wine. In 2007, 76 million liters were sent out to foreign lands [source: New Zealand Trade and Enterprise]. This is good news for regions like Nelson.

Read the next page to learn about how agriculture shapes this special region in New Zealand.