Gisborne wines in global spotlight

Some of the world's top wine writers and influencers have converged on Gisborne this weekend for an international wine symposium.

The Chardonnay and Sparkling Symposium runs over three days and includes 75-plus media, sommeliers (wine stewards) and buyers coming from across the globe. 

They have been tasting and learning about New Zealand wine in a region celebrated as the home of New Zealand chardonnay and sparkling wine.

Gisborne Winegrowers chair Annie Millton said Gisborne's chardonnays can stand alongside some of the best in the world. 

"It is important we continue to let people know we are capable of growing this very top quality fruit," she said.

She said the terroir makes the silt and clay balanced soils quite unique, with a high moisture holding capacity meaning Gisborne vineyards are dry farmed. 

"We don't irrigate our vineyards here and sustainability is so much more in the spotlight now," said Ms Millton.

The local terroir also contributes to the weight, texture and intensity of the Gisborne's wines. 

It is the second time the region has won the right to host the New Zealand Winegrowers symposium.

"I think part of that was the uniqueness of our region where our culture is very much part of our day-to-day life."

The attendees arrived on the Wine Flight Charter via Blenheim, Wairarapa and Hawke's Bay, tasting the wines from those regions as they flew over. 

A powhiri was held at Manutuke's Whakato Marae, not far from where the region's first grapevines were planted in the 1840s. 

Chardonnay from 20 New Zealand wineries was showcased in a masterclass on Friday and on Saturday Gisborne wine producers hosted a regional event to showcase their wines. 

The farewell dinner on Saturday will feature the the best of local cuisine and will be held at the Opou Homesead.

Those attending the symposium come from Ireland, Dubai, the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Russia, the United States, Singapore, Japan, China, Japan and Canada.