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Marlborough Wine Region

New Zealand’s Flagship Wine Region

Do you know that the wine image of New Zealand was redefined by Marlborough?

Yes, this wine region could even claim that it is the forerunner of the country’s modern wine industry.

Although the first wine grape plantings in this region were made only in the late 1970s the Marlborough’s signature grape variety Sauvignon Blanc was the only responsible factor that boosted the confidence of producing some interesting wines in the country.

Since the first production till date, this region continues to be the most important wine region of the country.

Wine grape varieties
I hope learning about the wines from Marlborough will interest all the people out there. Let’s continue here…

Introducing “Marlborough” as a Wine Region

Marlborough is located at the northeast corner of the country and is very popular for its dry climate.

With around 58,300 acres of vineyards, this region is responsible for producing almost three-quarters (around 62%) of the country’s total wine production.

This region has two parallel valleys – Wairau and Awatere. Of these, the Wairau is long and straight and is having a greater share of the vineyards of Marlborough.

The history of wine production in Marlborough can be dated back to the 1870s. However, the commercial wine production didn’t start here until the 1970s, when the famous wine producer Montana bought its first land in Marlborough.

The first large-scale vine plantings were made in the year 1973 which was followed by the rapid expansion by the year 1985.

Sub-Regions of Marlborough Wine Region

The whole Marlborough wine region can be divided into three sub-regions as:

Southern Valleys: This is an important sub-region which is surrounded by the following hills and valleys:

  • Omaka
  • Fairhall
  • Brancott
  • Ben Morvan
  • Waihopai

The nature of the soils, as well as the mesoclimates, is found to be varying in this region. But generally, the soils here would be heavier with lots of clay contents.

Here, we can find some good Pinot Noir grapes and some aromatics, although a wider range is produced depending on the individual strengths of vineyards.

Wairau Valley: As mentioned earlier, this sub-region is covering a vast majority of Marlborough’s vineyards. With old riverbed and riverbank soils, this region is experiencing climate aspects and rainfall giving the region various mesoclimates.

Within the region, the wines are found to be reflecting the individual vineyards and the producer strength all with the intensity and the body of the fruit.

Awatere Valley: This is found to be the most geographically distinct region in Marlborough. Lying to the south of Wairau valley, this sub-region is experiencing cool, dry, and windy climate.

These conditions are found to be favoring the growth of Pinot Noir and Sauvignons.

Alcohol and Distilleries

Wine Grapes of Marlborough Wine Region

As mentioned earlier, Sauvignon blanc is the king varietal of the region.

This grape variety is found to be covering almost 17,725 hectares of vineyards in this region.

The Marlborough’s Sauvignon Blanc is an international brand with its own rights.

This grape variety is found to be aromatic, fruity, herbaceous and tropical with mineral depths.

Although this variety is dominating the wine region several other varieties also are performing well in Marlborough. Pinot noir variety is important among them and is found to be occupying around 2,492 hectares of land.

The Pinot noirs of the Marlborough region are found to be lighter and fruitier thus producing some first-class wines.

Among the white grape varieties, the following are the most common types in Marlborough:

  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot Gris
  • Riesling

Other Grape Varieties of Marlborough:

  • Gewürztraminer
  • Viognier
  • Grüner Veltliner
  • Syrah
  • Arneis
  • Tempranillo

Some other grape varieties are also being experimented in this region as Marlborough is trying to push its wine producing boundaries.



Tharani Rajamanickam

Tharani Rajamanickam


I am Tharani, I have Bachelors degree in Biotechnology. I am passionate about the wine industry and continue to explore, learn and share and I bring in a wealth of knowledge and expertise to help you keep updated with best wines in the world. Stay tuned..

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