New Zealand’s second largest wine region (behind Marlborough), Hawkes Bay is on the east coast of the north island, to the south of Gisborne, and is New Zealand’s leading wine and food tourism destination. Many of the finest wines come out of the Hawkes Bay wine region.
A temperate climate with lots of sun is suited to superb Chardonnays in the whites and also later ripening red varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc (Bordeaux varietals) and Syrah.
A very special sub region in the Hawkes Bay region is the Gimblett Gravels. This sub region was thought to be not even good enough to graze sheep on, but in 1981 was planted under vine and now represents some of the world’s finest full bodied red wines. The unique terroir of the Gimblett Gravels comes from the old Ngaruroro River which until flowed through what is now known as the Gimblett Gravels, dumping gravel and heavy sands. The earthquake of 1931 changed the course of the river, leaving bare 800 hectares of prime new world terroir. Being 15km inland it doesn’t get the cooling sea breezes, so the region can get much hotter than the rest of Hawkes Bay.