When you think of all the great wine regions in the world, there is usually a great river close by. The Douro runs through Spain and Portugal, Bordeaux has the Garonne, Burgundy the Saone, and Barbaresco as the Tanaro, and in Marlborough we have the Wairau.
Many elements combine to make great wine growing regions perfect for grape growing. Sunshine, soil, and water are the basic ingredients, but the rivers that flow through most wine areas also play a critical a role.
While we have abundant sunshine hours, and we have mainly stony alluvial soils from the old river bed, these things are only part of the recipe that makes our wines taste like ours.
Because water maintains its temperature longer than air, rivers are able to act as both heat reservoirs and cooling agents in the valleys and this allows our vines to thrive. The difference in day and night time temperatures in the valley, (diurnal) is influenced by the river; and this is what gives us the trademark fine acid structure and ripe tropical flavours in our wines.
Our mighty Wairau River runs for 170km, and it is one of the South Islands longest rivers. Its Maori name means ‘many waters’, referring to its braided nature. It also feeds the Wairau aquifer, which is a vital source of water for the Wairau plain.
We owe much to our river, it gives us much more than just a name to our wines, a place to swim, something beautiful to photograph and a wonderful place to live, it is the lifeblood of our region.