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Pinot Noir in New Zealand - a fact file

© Sue Courtney
Updated November 19th, 2003

History
(this information came from a handout produced by the Wine Institute of New Zealand, January 2001)

  • Whilst Pinot Noir vines existed in New Zealand in the late 1800's at Masterton in the Wellington region and Hawkes Bay (see below for my researched references), the first quality Pinot Noir is credited to Nobilo Vintners in Auckland in 1976.


  • St Helena Wines attracted international acclaim with their 1982 Pinot Noir from vineyards near Christchurch in the Canterbury region.


  • From the mid-1980’s onwards the Martinborough district in the Wellington region began to lead the way forward with quality Pinot Noir production.


  • During the 1990’s and continuing today, plantings of Pinot Noir have expanded throughout all regions in the South Island (Central Otago, Canterbury/Waipara, Marlborough, Nelson) and also in selected sites beyond Wellington in the North Island (Hawkes Bay, Gisborne and Auckland).

Clones

  • Clones AM 10/5 and 2/10 were the first premium Pinot Noir clones imported into New Zealand and are widely planted today. Davis clones 5 (Pommard), 6 and 13 are also popular. In the early 1990s the Dijon clones 113, 114, 115, 667, 777 and 375 were planted and are now starting to produce exciting results.

Plantings and Production

  • Pinot Noir producing vines at the end of 2000 constituted 1098 hectares, 11% of the total producing vineyard area in New Zealand.


  • Pinot Noir producing vines increased by 85% to 2550 hectares in 2003 -second fastest in growth after Pinot Gris and second largest in area after Sauvignon Blanc.


  • By the end of 2005 the Pinot Noir producing area is expected to increase to 3282 hectares to account for 18% of the national vineyard area and over half of the red grape variety planting.

The table shows the most commons varieties planted in New Zealand and their estimated growth to 2003

Variety Hectares planted in 2000 Hectares planted in 2003 Increase from 2000 to 2003 % change Estimated % of NZ's total plantings in 2003

Sauvignon Blanc  

2,423  

3,427  

+1,004  

+ 41  

25.8  

Pinot Noir  

1 ,098  

2,036  

+ 938  

+ 85  

15.3  

Chardonnay  

2 ,787  

3,527  

+ 740  

+ 27  

26.5  

Merlot  

657  

950  

+ 293  

+ 45  

7.1  

Pinot Gris  

127  

249  

+ 122  

+ 96  

1.9  

Riesling  

490  

592  

+ 102  

+ 21  

4.5  

Cabernet Sauvignon  

654  

715  

+ 61  

+ 9 5  

.4  

Sub-total  

8,236  

11,496  

3,260  

+ 40  

86.5  

Source: 2000 Vineyard Survey, for Winegrowers of New Zealand

  • Pinot Noir is the largest red variety planted in New Zealand and the third largest variety overall (behind Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc).


  • The 2000 vintage produced 6,319 tonnes of Pinot Noir, up 30.5% from 1999.


  • In the frost affected vintage of 2003, 9,402 tonnes of Pinot Noir was produced, a downturn on the record 10,402 tonne harvest of 2002.

Regional Emphasis of Pinot Noir

 

Plantings of Pinot Noir in   2000
(in hectares)

Pinot Noir as % of Region’s Plantings

2000

Ranking of Pinot Noir   within Region in 2000

Estimated Pinot Noir   Plantings by 2003 (in hectares)

Actual
Pinot Noir Plantings in 2003 (in hectares)

Auckland/Northland

17 

4.3% 

6th  

31.1 

28.7

Canterbury/ Waipara

120.5 

27% 

1st  

166.9

193.5

Central Otago

136.3 

48.8% 

1st  

299.8 

468.4

Gisborne

39.1 

2.3% 

10th  

77.8 

74.9

Hawkes Bay

117.6 

4.8% 

6th  

192 

269.1

Marlborough

527.8 

13% 

3rd  

949.7 

1130.5

Nelson

33.7 

16.6% 

4th  

73.9 

105.5

Waikato/BOP

5.1 

4.3% 

5th  

6.7 

8.9

Wellington

101 

30.8% 

1st  

238.2 

270.5

Sources: Bank of New Zealand Wine and Grape Industry Statistical Annual 2000 and New Zealand Winegrowers Annual Report 2003

In regions such as Marlborough, Gisborne and Hawkes Bay a significant amount of the Pinot Noir plantings are dedicated to sparkling wine production.
Region

Actual 2003 producing

hectares

Percentage of Grapes for sparkling wine

Expected 2005

Producing hectares

Percentage of Grapes for sparkling wine

Auckland & Northland

28.7

0%

29.0

0%

Waikato

8.9

0%

11.0

0%

Gisborne

74.9

71%

76.2

72%

Hawkes Bay

269.1

19%

299.6

8%

Wellington

270.5

7%

342.1

8.1%

Marlborough

1130.5

15.6%

1429.5

12.3%

Nelson

105.5

0%

167.5

0%

Waipara

121.8

3.6%

156.5

5.3%

Canterbury

71.7

0.3%

84.2

2.7%

Otago

468.4

.03%

686.2

.02%

Totals

2550.0

12.25%

3281.8

10%

Historical References
"Pinot Noir was planted in Masterton as early as 1897" says the official blurb from New Zealand winegrowers but from the literature I've read it is becoming evident that Pinot Noir was planted earlier. Pertinent references are reproduced below and while some refer simply refer to 'Pinot', which could mean Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier or even Pinot Blanc, others distinctly refer to the variety 'Pinot Noir'.

Michael Cooper: 'The Wine and Vineyards of New Zealand'. 1984 (First Edition). Pp. 14.
"[William] Beetham planted his vines in 1883 and by 1897 was producing about 1850 gallons from Pinot and Hermitage grapes."
"Beetham's brother-in-law J.N. Williams planted an acre of Pinot grapes at Hastings in 1893 and later expanded the vineyard to seven acres."

The type of Pinot, whether Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier, is not clarified in these references. It is in a subsequent book,however.

Michael Cooper: The Wine Atlas of New Zealand'. 2002. Pp.14.
"They were encouraged by the success of William Beetham, a Wairarapa farmer, who planted his first vines in 1883 and by 1887 was producing about 1850 gallons (8410 L) of wine from Pinot Noir, Meunier and Hermitage (Syrah) grapes."

Michael Cooper. 'Chambers, Joseph Bernard 1859 - 1931'. Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Vol. 3, (1901-1920), 1996.
www.dnzb.govt.nz/dnzb/default.asp?Find_Quick.asp?PersonEssay=3C9 updated 31 July 2003*. accessed 19Nov2003.
And Michael Cooper. 'The Wine Atlas of New Zealand'. 2002. Pp 13.
On Bernard Chambers
" His interest in wine-making was kindled by a French guest at Te Mata homestead, who pointed out the viticultural potential of the surrounding slopes. Visits to wineries in France, California and Australia motivated him further. In 1892 cuttings of Pinot Noir were obtained from the Society of Mary's Mission Vineyards at Taradale and the first vines struck root at Te Mata Vineyard. "

Dick Scott. Winemakers of New Zealand. 1964. First Edition. Hardback.
On William Beetham, pp. 34-35
"In 1883 he planted an eight of an acre in vines at his town house in Masterton, ultimately gathered up to the equivalent of nine tonnes of grapes to the acre, had his gardener tread the vintage, and began winemaking.
Beetham experimented with Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Hermitage, Black Hamburgh, Black Muscat, Golden Chasselas and the white Spanish grape Doradillo. Over 3000 cuttings, mostly Pinots and some Hermitage, were transplanted to a three-acre vineyard named 'Lansdowne' in 1892."

"Williams, Beetham's brother-in-law, planted an acre of Pinot, grapes in 1893. "

On Romeo Bragato, pp. 46-47
"In 1895 Bragato, an Italian viticulturist employed by the government of Victoria [Australia], was loaned to New Zealand to report on the suitability of the different districts.
After hospitality in Wellington, Bragato was accompanied by three Agriculture Department officials to Beetham's Wairarapa vineyard. He inspected three acres of wine grapes, found them in perfect condition and drank some prime quality six-year-old hermitage wine. At Greenmeadows, the 22-acre Tiffen vineyard had produced a magnificent crop of Pinot, the finest grapes Bragato had seen."

WinePros website
www.winepros.com.au/jsp/cda/countries/region_profile.jsp?ID=510 accessed 19Nov2003.
In 1890 Henry Stokes Tiffen visited William Beetham's Wairarapa vineyard planted to shiraz and pinot noir, and tasted the wines. Michael Cooper records that Beetham subsequently wrote, "He (Tiffen) paid us a visit and saw my vineyard; he lunched with us and tasted our wine. He said, 'This is enough for me' went back to Napier and planted a vineyard.''

www.winepros.com.au/jsp/cda/countries/region_profile.jsp?ID=6762 accessed 19Nov2003.
The [Hawkes Bay] boom started in 1890, when Henry Stokes Tiffen, a wealthy 71-year-old landowner (who had lived in Hawke's Bay since 1857 and who had sporadically endeavoured to support viticulture in the region) plunged into grape growing and winemaking. By 1896 his Greenmeadows Vineyard - planted to varieties such as chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot blanc, and pinot meuniere - was described as 'the premier vineyard in New Zealand'.

Other Links
Pinot Noir 2001 - the New Zealand tasting (February 2001)
Pinot Noir 2001 - the International tasting (February 2001)
A very special Pinot Noir (January 2001)
A treatise on NZ Pinot Noir - suited to the terroir (August 2000)
Pinot Noir 2004 - A preview (November 2003)
More reviews of some NZ Pinot Noir Wines


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