Log In / Join Now

Wine Spectator School

Class 3: New Zealand



Grapes Past

Until the 1960s, New Zealand's most-planted grape was Isabella. Along with Baco Noir, this hybrid made a lot of (not necessarily fine) wines. The wines were generally sweet and fortified.

Grapegrowers were then seduced by another hybrid, Muller-Thurgau, On the North Island, the German hybrid ripened easily and produced large quantities of grapes. Unfortunately, Muller-Thurgau was less generous in the bottle, where it made simple quaffs.

In the 1970s, winemakers began looking to Bordeaux, the Loire and Burgundy for inspiration. Top quality vinifera slowly replaced Muller-Thurgau throughout the 1980s.

Grapes Present

As New Zealand wines appear in increasing numbers on retail shelves and wine lists around the world, Sauvignon Blanc has emerged as the country's strength.

Sauvignon Blanc is New Zealand's most widely-planted grape, having recently overtaken Chardonnay....

Ready to enroll?

First, you must register for a membership to WineSpectator.com. Your membership benefits include:
  • FREE enrollment in any course at Wine Spectator School
  • Over 230,000 searchable ratings and tasting notes
  • FREE mobile access so you can research wines wherever you are
  • E-newsletters with advance ratings
  • Editors’ blogs
  • Food and wine matching tool
  • And much more
Log In If You're Already a WineSpectator.com Member

If you have questions about Wine Spectator School, please contact us.

Free Email Newsletters—Sign Up

Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions
New! Ratings Flash | New! Unfiltered

» View samples
» Or sign up now!
» Manage my newsletter preferences


The marketplace for all your wine needs, including:

Wine Storage | Wine Clubs
Dining & Travel | Wine Auctions
Wine Shops | Wine Accessories

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 300,000+ ratings.