Whilst planting of vineyards was nothing new the modern day growth of New Zealand’s wine trade came from a need to diversify agriculture. Their traditional meat and dairy market to the UK dried up due to joining the European Union in the early 1970’s. This agricultural land especially in the Marlborough region was replanted with popular grape varieties of the time Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon and Auckland and Hawkes Bay being planted with Cab Sauv and Merlot. The shot in the arm for NZ was the mid eighties when Cloudy Bay was named best Sauvignon in the world putting their wines firmly on the international stage. The advantages of this relatively new winemaking culture was the cutting edge wine making techniques and modern efficient wineries being the first country to introduce Stelvin closures (screw caps) on their wines to escape cork taint. Although vineyards are now planted with more varied grape varieties NZ is mainly noted for its sublime Sauvignons and Pinot Noirs that can rival the very best French alternatives.
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