New Zealand really is wine country. From the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island, there are vineyards and wineries everywhere. Wine making is not new to New Zealand. The first grape vines were planted in Northland in 1819 and New Zealand’s first winery, Mission Estates, was established in 1851 and is still going strong.

With numerous wine regions, New Zealand is a true wine lovers paradise. There are over 500 wineries in New Zealand, most of which are open to the public and happy to provide tastings. You might even have the winemaker themselves serving you.

Some miscellaneous New Zealand wine facts…

* New Zealand is home to not only the world’s most easterly wine region (Gisborne) but also the world’s southernmost wine region (Otago)

* There are more wine festivals in New Zealand than there are wine regions. Top festivals (every February) include the Marlborough Wine Festival and the Hawke’s Bay Wine Festival.

* Move star Sam Neil of Jurassic Park fame owns Two Paddocks, a winery in Gibbston, Central Otago.

* New Zealand wine makers are always calling out for workers during harvest season, so why not help make the wine as well as taste the wine. Here’s the when, where, and how.

Anyone considering a trip to New Zealand Wine Country should pick up a copy of Classic New Zealand Wine Trail Guide to point you in the right direction. This free guide is available at all wine region information centers or you can order it online.

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Liz Lewis is a New Zealand based writer who favors wine tasting and food markets over bungy jumping and mountain climbing.