Historically Canterbury was one of the first regions to attempt wine growing. In 1840 French immigrants planted vineyards in Akaroa Peninsula. Nowadays there are no fewer than 50 vineyards and wineries in the Christchurch and Canterbury region, from individually or family owned estates to the vineyards of major national wine producers such as Montana. Most of the industry is centred around Christchurch and the North Canterbury region where the growing conditions are more favourable.
Warm dry north westerlies are frequent visitors to the Canterbury plains, bringing with them ideal growing conditions, diminishing the incidence of pests and diseases that attack the vines and the fruit. Combine this with ranges of hills which shelter the vineyards from the worst drying out effects of the winds and a free draining chalky loam soil, and the legacy is a bounteous array of good quality wines, from Chardonnays, Sauvignon Blancs, and Rieslings through to Pinot Noirs, Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons. The slightly cooler Canterbury climate also means that some grape varieties have longer to ripen and thus are able to build and slowly concentrate the flavours.
Production area 2004: 716 hectares (includes Waipara)
Principal Varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc