Introduction to the Gimblett Gravels

Gimblett Gravels Feature Week

Gimblett Gravels is an 800 hectare area of land in Hawke’s Bay. It is probably New Zealand’s best-known wine subregion, famously producing some of the country’s top red wines (excluding pinot noir).

Prior to 1991, only 20ha of the region was planted in grapes – growing to over 200ha by 1997 with a further 400ha being planted since 1998.

Check out the Gimblett Gravels website and you will discover that Gimblett Gravels wines have won 339 trophies and 1002 gold medals since 2001. According to the site, the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association has 24 winery members and three grower members.

The region was first planted in red grapes in 1981, with merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. Prior to 1991, only 20ha of the region was planted in grapes – growing to over 200ha by 1997 with a further 400ha being planted since 1998.

Ninety per cent of the land is planted in red grape varieties—35% merlot, 20% syrah, 15% cabernet sauvignon, 7% malbec, 4% cabernet franc and small pockets of ‘other red’ varietals, including grenache, montepulciano and tempranillo.

The remaining 10% is planted in chardonnay, viognier and very small pockets of other aromatic varietals, including arneis, gewürztraminer and riesling. The first syrah was planted in 1982 by Alan Limmer of Stonecroft.

Before 1867 the Gimblett Gravel District made up the Omahu channel of the Ngaruroro River, part of the Heretaunga Plains. After a flooding event in 1867, the channel moved north to the other side of Roy’s Hill where it presently flows.

Although vines appear to completely carpet the Gimblett Gravels area, unplanted tracts of land still exist although many of these may never play host to grapevines for a variety of cultural reasons. If Gimblett Gravel wines continue to perform with distinction, which seems likely, the price of Gimblett Gravels wine and vineyard land should both experience a bit of upward pressure.

The future looks bright for New Zealand’s most famous wine subregion.


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