Hawke’s Bay: A Renowned Destination for Sauvignon Blanc

New Zealand is perhaps most adored for the production of Sauvignon Blanc. Traditionally, Marlborough seemed to garner the most affections though Hawke’s Bay has a slightly warmer climate that makes the wines produced here truly stand apart.

The first grape vines were planted in Hawke’s Bay back in 1851 by missionaries. Since then, these vines have intertwined within this unique terroir to become quite a splendid choice for any wine lover, particularly those with a penchant for Sauvignon Blanc. Although wine has been produced since those times, the modern winemaking industry didn’t really begin here until the 1970’s.

What’s even more fascinating though is that even in the 1970s’, Sauvignon Blanc wasn’t as prized a varietal as it is today. In fact, it was upstaged by Chenin Blanc and Müller-Thurgau when grown in Marlborough. While Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough are completely different in terroir, if it wasn’t for the New Zealand government paying growers to yank up their vines during a wine glut in favor of planting Sauvignon Blanc, it might not have grown to the incredible fame it now enjoys today.

Sauvignon Blanc Vineyard
Sauvignon Blanc Vineyard

Hawke’s Bay features 1.4 million hectares, 350km of those sitting upon the Pacific coast. An array of splendid factors come into play in this environment, making it an ideal place for vineyards. For one, there’s the outstanding maritime climate. For another, there are free-draining soil types. Plus, there are hot and dry north-westerly winds, low rainfall volume, and a long growing season. With tons of sunshine, it has been dubbed one of the warmest areas of New Zealand.

For thousands of years, the 5 major rivers of Hawke’s Bay moved and forged a variety of valleys and terraces. This resulted in over 25 different soil types ranging from limestone to clay loam and sand to free-draining gravels. With a variance in altitudes too, which can range from sea level to several hundred meters in inland areas, plus the changes in terrain, Hawke’s Bay is truly a unique place for cultivating vines. And the payoff of those cultivations is truly astounding.

In the case of Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc, it has that freshness that New Zealand wines have become famed for yet with an exotically ripe tropical fruit profile. It’s rounder, more floral, and more ripe than Sauvignon Blanc produced anywhere else. The international acclaim for this New Zealand region continues to grow, setting the benchmark for Sauvignon Blanc across the globe.

Incredibly, while Marlborough produces the most volume of this varietal, Hawke’s Bay is the most coveted thanks to those warmer temperatures that lengthen the growing season. Should you have the chance to visit New Zealand, head to Hawke’s Bay to discover the wine tourism trail where you can taste and discover new favorites to keep in your own wine cellar.

Discovering Hawke’s Bay’s Sauvignon Blanc is a game-changer for white wine drinkers. Those who tend to reach for a Chardonnay over the Sauvignon Blanc will likely come around to this varietal when tasting it from the soils of Hawke’s Bay. It’s livelier, enticing and utterly uplifting. Luckily, you can find them closer to home if there’s no time for travel. Ask for Sauvignon Blanc from Hawke’s Bay and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. A few examples follow below for Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc producers.

Church Road Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc is one that goes with the typical kiwi style. It’s driven by fruitiness and intensely aromatic. It’s produced as similarly to Marlborough’s offerings of the varietal but the key difference in flavor comes from the lay of the land. Because it’s located in a cooler area of its vineyards in Hawke’s Bay, Church Road is much lower in acidity, lending a soft, richer and rounder texture. It feels creamier without overshadowing the experience.

Matua was the first to produce Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand. Helmed by brothers Bill and Ross Spence, they revolutionized the wine industry for the country and are largely considered the ones who made Sauvignon Blanc from Hawke’s Bay the most revered in the world. With Matua Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc, you’ll want to taste it because it was the first of its kind in New Zealand back in the 1970’s. It has a sublime flavor of pineapple and pear with just a touch of natural minerality, a very enjoyable offering.

Decibel’s Sauvignon Blanc from the Crownthorpe subregion of Hawke’s Bay grows inland on elevated terraces. This nets it strong sunlight during the day yet gets a slightly cooler temperature, a fine combination for growing Sauvignon Blanc. As a 100% sustainable vineyard, it employs the best practices to craft a delightful chalky texture, a result of the free-draining red gravel soil topped with silt loam and woven with limestone patches. It brings a rich stone fruit flavor which is big with acidity and brilliant white peach aromas. It’s a vivid choice for discovering Hawke’s Bay’s esteemed Sauvignon Blanc. Other Hawke’s Bay vineyards do as incredible a job in creating the finest Sauvignon Blanc in the world. For those that have yet to taste it, it’s time to indulge yourself and discover how the wineries of Hawke’s Bay will make you a believer.