The Hawke's Bay is the oldest wine region in New Zealand, and the second largest in levels of production. Centred around Napier and Hastings, Hawke’s Bay has a similar moderate maritime climate to Bordeaux in France, and very similar gravel, alluvial soils too. This means that a large proportion of the wines from here are Merlot-dominant red blends, although Cabernet Sauvignon is growing in popularity.
Perhaps the most important subregion of Hawke’s Bay is Gimblett Gravels, an area where the soil is so integral, it’s name is eponymous. The stony dark gravel is able to store and radiate the day’s heat back to the vines during the cold nights, allowing heavier red grapes to flourish, Syrah in-particular. Hawke’s Bay is home to 75% of Syrah plantings in New Zealand, with amazing blackberry and black pepper spice flavours (as close to Rhone as you can get in New Zealand). Hawkes Bay Chardonnay also deserves some recognition.