The Waipara wine region has steadily evolved as early Canterbury wine making pioneers progressively moved north to the more sheltered, drier and warmer valleys around Waipara. It is around 75 minutes drive from Christchurch which makes day visits possible, or there are accommodation options around Amberley, Hamner Springs and in the Waipara wine region itself.
Waipara is a fascinating wine region to visit, relatively understated yet making some world-class wines. The climate is the first surprise, although it is relatively close to the Pacific Ocean, seaward hills play a major influence on the microclimate. Like Central Otago to the south, winters can be extremely cold and summers can be extremely hot, it is not unusual to have some of the hottest temperatures in the country mid-summer. The region is also surprisingly dry due to the protection from the seaward foothills to the east and the more substantial Southern Alps to the west.
In my view the unquestionable stars of Waipara are the Rieslings and Pinot Noirs. The Rieslings can be surprisingly rich with a textural, waxy quality, the best having an amazing ability to age. The Pinot Noirs are typically quite full bodied and earthy. There are also a number of stunning Chardonnays worth trying.
While in Waipara don't miss out on visiting some of the quirky, country towns or dining out in one of several fabulous local Waipara cafes and restaurants.