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Regional profile: Wairarapa

Burgundy lovers, take note: four decades in, the vineyard areas at the southern end of New Zealand’s North Island have developed a growing reputation for excellent quality and vineyard expression, and for characterful Pinot Noirs in particular. Oliver Styles tells the region’s story, and explains why the best may still be to come

A few years ago, the Wairarapa (‘sparkling waters’ in Te Reo Māori) wine region tried calling itself Wellington Wine Country. It was quickly dropped, and no one really wants to talk about it all that much any more. But you can see why they did it. While the Wairarapa accounts for only 1% of New Zealand’s wine production (the country itself produces 1% of the world’s wine), its boutique wineries have a somewhat symbiotic relationship with the town ‘over the hill’, as they say. More than a few producers survive (some have done for decades) on domestic sales and visitors from the capital. Some urbanites, from civil servants to city-based entrepreneurs, are even responsible for kick-starting the wine region itself.


A taste of Wairarapa: Styles picks 10 to try

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