Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

19 May 2010

Vineyards in Marlborough, New Zealand

Marlborough is a province in the north-east corner of New Zealand’s South Island. When I first came to this country over fifty years ago, it was little more than a parched, biscuit-coloured landscape subject to very low rainfalls and in a permanent state of aridity. Then as now, a few shingle-bedded rivers and streams laced its dry, tussocky landscape. Not much was done with the land apart from sheep farming where Romneys and Cheviots, almost indistinguishable in colour from their surrounds, selectively grazed sparse, whispering grasses.

Then somebody discovered that the soil, climate and hours of sunshine of Marlborough provided perfect conditions for vineyards. Dry gravels and long days of high heat summation were similar to the best of European conditions and promised well for a wine industry that was virtually non-existent midway through the twentieth century.

This picture, taken in Marlborough’s Awatere Valley is typical of what has happened. The foreground and the distant hills are the land’s natural colour, the large green patches of vineyard are typical of the country’s added value. It’s quite a new vineyard, there are others larger and older but this one in particular demonstrates the impact of grape farming upon an old, tired scenery.


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By Don Donovan