Region - North Canterbury

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North Canterbury

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Region Wineries

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

Bell Hill, so named for its shape as viewed from the south, is an old lime quarry steeped in natural history. The two hectare vineyard uses Burgundian vineyard architecture with a high plant density of 9,090 to 11,363 vines/ha. Drawn by the pure, chalky limestone soils and calcareous clays, we seek to reflect the characteristic expression of our site and soil in the wines we make, looking for consistent quality, fruit concentration and expression of terroir.
Bellbird Spring is a wine estate owned by the Porter family in North Canterbury. We craft small parcels of fine wine to accompany great food. Our vineyards are maintained using organic practices. We make aromatic white and red wine using traditional techniques. Our Pinot Noir comes from a range of clones, to produce complex wines made by Guy Porter. Wines are typified by the use of indigenous fermentation, extended maceration and ageing in French oak.
Black Estate is a remarkable place for wine – three hillside vineyards on clay and limestone soils in North Canterbury. We’re family owned and operated. Nicholas Brown oversees the grape growing and makes the wine and Pen his wife manages the business. Viticulture is intense, organic and hands on and our winemaking is gentle and guiding. We want to make wines that are true to their individual site – wines with natural balance, structure and character.
Greystone draws its name from the unique limestone conglomerate that forms the bedrock of its vineyard. This mix of seashells, fossils, pebbles and limestone were thrust out of the ocean around 100,000 years ago to form the Omihi hills of the 37 hectare vineyard, planted in 2004. Our goal is to express this terroir through wild ferments, some in the vineyard itself, with fruit returned to the rows to ferment in the open air.

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

After 15 years of extensively travelling the world, Mike and Claudia Weersing finally found their Pyramid Valley site in North Canterbury New Zealand. The home vineyard was established biodynamcially in 1999 and has been planted in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on scarp slopes, at a density of 10,000-12,000 vines per hectare. “Every gesture made in the vineyard and winery, is a summons to this spirit of place. Biodynamics, hand-based viticulture, low yields, natural winemaking – these are some of the means we’ve adopted better to record and transmit this voice”.
The ancient geology of giant creatures, the permeating past, limestone alluvial “soils”, 25 year old vines, riverside multi-terraced site of steep banked amphitheatres, which regularly ripens 8 varietals including cabernet reds. Mix of old Swiss and younger Dijon Pinot Noir clones, individual ferments, handworked in onsite winery. Great attention to detail in vine and wine care by all. The love shows through in these wines, Pinot Noir is deep within the heart of this place.
The Crater Rim is a family-owned winery situated in the rolling hills of Waipara. We grow, make and market limited quantities of terroir-specific wines from the region. Our wines are produced from sites carefully selected for their particular mix of topography, soil and microclimate – creating high quality, site-specific wines of individual character and drinkability. We work closely with each vineyard to ensure that vines are cropped low and managed sustainably, guaranteeing the best quality fruit possible from each site. These are exceptional wines from exceptional places.

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.