Though they’ve flirted with the vine since they were first colonized by the British, Kiwi wine didn’t really get going until about 1970. Even then, their flagship wine is Sauvignon Blanc which doesn’t exactly have a high success rate with us. So younger wine country focused on wines we didn’t necessarily love = low expectations.
We were wrong. Oh how terribly, terribly wrong. What we failed to account for in our estimations was that New Zealand was geologically formed for the express purposes of creating perfect vineyards and then from time to time coating those vineyards in molten lava. This then creates fertile soil for new vineyards! Luckily for the locals, the volcanoes have laid off the devastation racket for the past few centuries and allowed the industrious Kiwis to come out swinging in the wine market. And a-swinging they have come.
New Zealand was the first time since starting the grog files that we reviewed a country which did wine as an industry instead of just one or two organizations producing the “local brew.” (Ok, except for Texas, but we didn’t know when we were there what we missed!) It took us aback that we had over 9 pages of notes and we had only scratched the surface of the 5 regions, and over 640 wineries this little country brings to the market.
This completely leaves out the beers and people, when discussing libations of New Zealand, one does not leave out the beer. They’ve had a lot more time to develop their brews than their wines and it shows in the quality. This is, after all, a pub culture. Heck, there’s a microbrewery movement out here we completely missed!
Oh, and just in case you have kids looking for something special those New Zealanders, following in their long established traditions of “just being nice to everyone” went ahead and created one of the best soft drinks out there on the modern market.
Like we said, even with our limited samplings, there was too much here for one post. So we are breaking it up the way New Zealand divides most things in their world: North Island & South Island. Also, to make this more manageable we’re reporting on wineries & breweries as a whole instead of individual drinks one at a time.
This may lead you to ask us, well, North or South? Which was better? What it comes down to is this: No matter which island you’re on, it’s an easy thing to find a good drink and good company to have it with in New Zealand.