It was in North Canterbury during the 1970s that the South Island’s Pinot Noir potential started to be seriously explored through trials at Lincoln University. Subsequently, Danny Schuster’s gold medal-winning St Helena Pinot Noir 1982 is still seen as a seminal expression of the variety.
Ever since, the fascinating, diverse terroir that makes up North Canterbury has been delivering on its promise. It now occupies a special place on the national Pinot Noir map.
Most North Canterbury vineyards are clustered around the town of Waipara, an hour’s drive north of Christchurch. Sheltered by the Teviotdale Hills from the cold nor’easterly winds coming in from the coast, the area is both warm and low in rainfall. Soil-wise, it’s a complex mosaic. On the valley floor are deep alluvial gravels, while on the lower, gentler slopes of the Teviotdale Hills are heavier clay-based with the added allure of limestone.
Directly inland from Waipara, west of the town of Waikari, are hills rich in limestone. This was the principal magnet for a pair of producers, Bell Hill and Pyramid Valley, whose pinots are reflective of their distinctive terroirs.
Further south, there are vineyards on the stony plains around Christchurch and on the volcanic basalt of Banks Peninsula.
After Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir is the region’s most widely planted grape, covering an area of 430ha.
Bell Hill Vineyard
Mt. Beautiful wines are the expression of the wild, rugged and breathtakingly scenic region of North Canterbury. Certified-sustainable and estate-grown, these distinctively restrained wines let the pure terroir shine through. World-renowned scholar/entrepreneur and New Zealand native David Teece, together with his wife Leigh, spent two years searching for just this spot, where they could pioneer an undiscovered region and fulfil their dream of bringing the best of New Zealand to the world.
Pegasus Bay is owned and operated by the Donaldson’s, Pioneers of the Canterbury wine industry. Ivan and Christine established the vineyard in 1985, and today Ivan oversees viticulture, Christine curates the breathtaking gardens, Eldest son Matthew is winemaker, Edward is marketing manager while his wife Belinda managers the winery restaurant, and youngest son Paul is GM. 12 different clones of Pinot Noir represent a third of the plantings with most now 30 years of age.
Pyramid Valley Vineyards
The Crater Rim
Tongue in Groove Wines
This label brings the knowledge of six friends into a beautiful collision with the best vineyards in one of the most exciting wine regions. Our Pinot Noir vineyard ‘Cabal’ is a clay and limestone vineyard on the north facing slopes of the Omihi Hills. We practice low intervention wine-making – natural yeasts, minimal handling, no additions, filtering or fining, light filtration for clarity and stability. Our headquarters is the organic, permaculture property called The Food Farm in the heart of the Waipara Valley.
At Waipara Hills our winemaking philosophy is simple. It’s about creating perfect balance, encouraging the characteristics of each season’s fruit to shine, whilst celebrating South Island vineyards. The result is wine that is rich, textural and bursting with complex flavour.
From the vineyards to the winery, our team are hands on in perfecting their craft, pouring a little of themselves into everything they do. Discover the Soul of the South with Waipara Hills.