New Zealand burst onto the world wine stage in the 1980s with striking Sauvignon Blancs that crammed more flavour into the glass than any other country had ever achieved with that classic French variety. Today's wines are riper and less green-edged in an easier-drinking style, but they are still considered to be some of the best in the world.

Issue information

New Zealand's climate and soils are the key assets that enable the production of outstanding table wines. Around the world, the finest wines are grown in regions with relatively cool climates where grapes are able to ripen fully but slowly, retaining their refreshing acidity while building up subtle aroma and flavours.

The stamps were illustrated by Nancy Tichborne and designed by Dianne Prosser.

A special miniature sheet booklet was also produced in conjunction with the stamp issue incorporating seven miniature sheets six of which contained one of the six stamps from the issue with the seventh containing all six Vineyards stamps. The sheet incorporating all six stamps was also produced in a special limited quantity with the words 'Limited Edition - Vineyards' gold foiled on the sheet's surface and individually numbered from 1 to 2,000 in gold ink for sale in 2,000 special Limited Edition collectors packs.

Central Otago - 40c
The wine industry in Central Otago is still on a very small scale, with much of its output consumed by the constant flow of Queenstown tourists. The area's extreme dryness reduces the risk of disease and allows an extended autumn ripening period. This stamp features the Rippon vineyard, which is perched on the edge of Lake Wanaka and surrounded by snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps. Central Otago's first Methode Champenoise was produced by Rippon in 1993.

Hawke's Bay - 80c
This is New Zealand's second largest wine region. Hawke's Bay Chardonnays, oak-matured Sauvignon Blancs and Cabernet-based reds rank among the best in the country. Marist missionaries planted the first vines in 1851 in the Hawke's Bay and by the 1890s several wealthy landowners were producing commercial volumes of wine. The Hawke's Bay climate of warm, sunny summers, dryish autumns and a strong maritime influence has distinct parallels with Bordeaux in France - an area renowned for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot-based reds. Te Mata Estate is shown on this stamp, a vineyard with a reputation for producing high-quality red wines.

Marlborough - $1.00
Marlborough is by far New Zealand's largest wine region, with almost 40 percent of all plantings. Grapevines sweep across the pebble, pancake-flat Wairau Valley, and are also well-established in the Awatere Valley, over the hills to the south-east. Sauvignon Blanc is the flagship varietal of Marlborough, and Cloudy Bay, the vineyard featured on this stamp has received much acclaim for its Sauvignon Blancs, as well as its Chardonnays.

Canterbury/Waipara - $1.20
The Christchurch district produces leaner, steelier wines than the more robust and ripely flavoured wines flowing from the sheltered warmer sites in North Canterbury, the location of Pegasus Bay which is shown on this stamp. Pegasus Bay is planted on a bed of smooth stones left by the retreat of an ice-age glacier. The Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot produced by Pegasus Bay is a wine that is fast gaining a big reputation.

Gisborne - $1.50
Gisborne growers produce over a third of the total New Zealand grape harvest. Sun drenched Gisborne is a wine grower's paradise which particularly favours the Chardonnay grape. The Millton Vineyard is shown on this stamp, a winery that has gained renown for natural, chemical-free methods of winemaking, as well as the quality of its white wines. One of the Millton success stories is the Millton Opou Riesling.

Auckland/Waiheke - $1.80
Only three percent of New Zealand's vines are planted in the Auckland region, but over a quarter of the wine companies are based in Auckland. Thick skinned Cabernet Sauvignon grapes flourish in Auckland's warm and sunny, but relatively damp climate producing sturdy red wines with rich blackcurrant and spice flavours. Goldwater Estate pioneered wine-making on Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf, and is famous for its magnificently full-flavoured and complex Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot.

Miniature Sheets
Seven miniature sheets, six incorporating one of the stamps from this issue and one incorporating all six stamps were produced as part of a special miniature sheet booklet.

Limited Edition Miniature Sheet
This miniature sheet incorporating all six stamps from the Vineyards stamp issue was produced for inclusion in a special Limited Edition collectors pack. Each sheet was individually numbered in gold ink and gold foiled with the words 'Vineyards - Limited Edition'.

Pacific '97 Vineyards Miniature Sheet
Issued 29 May 1997
A miniature sheet was produced, incorporating three Vineyard stamps (40c, $1.00 and $1.50), to commemorate the Pacific '97 World Philatelic Exhibition held in San Francisco 29 May - 8 June 1997.

Technical information

Date of Issue:  19 March 1997
Stamp Illustrations: Nancy Tichborne, Akaroa, New Zealand
Dianne Prosser, Wellington, New Zealand
Printer: Southern Colour Print, New Zealand
Stamp Size: 44.3mm x 30mm; Miniature Sheet Size: 150mm x 110mm and 145mm x 100mm
Sheet Size: 100 stamps per sheet; Miniature sheets of one, three and six stamps
Process: Lithography
Perforation Gauge: 14
Paper Type: Harrison and Sons, red phosphor coated, unwatermarked