New Zealand Ports Map

New Zealand Ports Map

The Awatere valley and hills

With the river roughly in the centre of its valley, the Awatere has a more classical form than the Wairau. At its widest point the Awatere’s land available for planting is less than 5 kilometres across with the active riverbed occupying about a kilometre of that. The river also reveals the origins and variability of the valley sediments for all to see. Crossing the rail and road bridge just before Seddon, you see the terraces of various ages perched tens of metres above the active riverbed. As the river has sliced through these terraces it has exposed the strata that underlie them. Vineyards now define the outline of the surfaces of the terraces for 20 kilometres up the river.

While the Awatere has its own special attraction, it remains something of an adjunct of the Wairau, almost a grape-growing outpost. It seems highly unlikely that the large companies, already with cellars on the Wairau Plain, will establish processing facilities in the Awatere. Nevertheless, the vineyards that are snaking into the hills southwards from Riverlands along State Highway 1 and from the south towards the Dashwood Pass seem to be making an effort to link the two.

As in the Wairau, the acceleration of growth in the last decade has seen parts of the Awatere, such as east along Redwood Road from State Highway 1, packed with vines. The easy slopes away from the river on the south bank have been planted and vineyards in large parcels are appearing on the road to Ward and further south.

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The imperative of a Marlborough brand

In the late 1990s, when the scrabble to buy the remaining land in Marlborough intensified as the corporates, now with deeper financial backing, became more aggressive, another smaller, Yukich-like raid was made on Marlborough. This time Sauvignon Blanc vineyards in production were the target. During 2000, Giesen Holdings Ltd, in association with the South Island iwi Ngai Tahu, bought 14 parcels of Sauvignon

One part of Giesen’s extensive Marib0r0ugh Blanc vineyards ranging in size from 12 to 45 acres, and a winery site – a total of 350 acres vineyard. Giesen Wines Ltd or 142 hectares of vineyards. It was suggested at the time that they were paying about Figure 7.6 Beginning in 1993, Giesen Holdings bought pockets of land across the Wairau Valley, enabling them to discover the unique properties of different environments over time. $135,000 per hectare for Sauvignon Blanc vines, which would make a total investment of over $19.2 million. In a period of months, Giesen transformed from a Canterbury company known for their Rieslings to a Marlborough label growing predominantly Sauvignon Blanc.

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