Waipara Valley

According to Bob Campbell MW, Waipara is ‘one of the unsung heroes of the wine industry’. It is fast becoming renowned for producing premium wines, particularly Pinot Noir and Riesling.


The region is characterised by long, hot autumns and low rainfall. The region’s heat and rainfall during the critical October to April growing season are similar to Marlborough. Yet while Marlborough’s grape growers point to cool night and hot daytime temperatures as one of the region’s key quality factors, in Waipara the disparity is even greater.


The soils differ dramatically across the region, with the central and western side of the valley having well-drained, low fertility, gravel soils. The hillsides on the eastern side of the valley are limestone-based clay soils. And in the south, the soils are gravel loams over alluvial sub-soils.


In 2010 there were 1,800 hectares of vineyards and 20 wineries in Waipara, mostly producing Pinot Noir, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. Typically Waipara vineyards are making wine from very low yields, with the region average just 3.2 tonnes/ha, which is less half the overall New Zealand average (8.0t/ha) and a third of Marlborough’s 9.33t/ha.

Growing season data (Oct-April)
Growing degree days:  117
Rainfall:  380mm
Sunshine hours(annual): 2124