Hawke's Bay is New Zealand's second-largest wine region and is located on the Southeast facing coast of the North Island. The geography of the region mixes hilly topography, river valleys, alluvial plains, and a coastal strip with direct exposure to the expanse of the Pacific Ocean. As you would expect, Hawke’s Bay offers more than one meso-climate to produce grapes. The top five grapes by vineyard area are:
- Chardonnay 1,084 ha
- Merlot 981 ha
- Pinot Gris 555 ha
- Syrah 339 ha
- Pinot Noir 227 ha
- Cabernet Sauvignon 193 ha
The coastal strip has direct influence of the cool air of the Pacific Ocean which benefits the production of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Moving inland vineyards are planted on rolling hillsides or in the alluvial gravel beds of the valleys. The warmer temperatures of these areas are perfect for Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Chardonnay. The wine styles in this part of the region bridge between the reserved nature of Europe and the fruit forward style of the New World. The wines tend toward bright, fresh flavors without heaviness.
There are several subregions within the Hawke's Bay GI, the most notable being Gimblett Gravels and Bridge Pa Triangle. Both subregions are in the alluvial gravel beds and famous for Merlot and blends of Merlot with Cabernet Sauvignon. A majority of the hectares of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are planted in these two subregions. Syrah and Chardonnay thrive here as well with exciting wines being produced from both grapes.
Moving further inland you find Central Hawke’s Bay with hills rising to 300 meters ASL. This area is cooler than the alluvial plains and focus on Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir.