New Zealand wine production dates back to colonial times (the mid-1800s) but never really took off until the 1970s. The most famous wine New Zealand now produces are white wines made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape and particularly from the area called Marlborough.
Other white wines of New Zealand to a lesser extent include Chardonnay and Riesling. Since the climate of New Zealand is generally cool with a maritime influence, the red wines of New Zealand are fewer and mostly relegated to Pinot Noir with some recent success with Syrah and Bordeaux varietals in certain areas.
Many of the important wine regions of New Zealand lie in valleys carved out of the mountains that dominate the country, protecting vineyards from wind while the mountains help block excessive rain. Since New Zealand is an island nation, the surrounding waters tend to moderate temperatures, providing for cooler summers and milder winters and protecting the grapes from temperature extremes.