Australia and New Zealand have remarkably different wine-making histories.
Australia got off to a good start as the first fleet collected vine cuttings en route to New South Wales. New Zealand on the other hand didn’t bring cuttings in until 50 years later and even then an industry didn’t fully develop until Croatian immigrants created the industry that we know today.
Many Croatians, also known as Austrians when they were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, or Dalmatians if they came from the southern part, went to New Zealand to be Kauri gum diggers. As time went on more and more moved into wine-making and they have had an enormous influence on the history of New Zealand wine.
As an example, Nobilo may not be an obvious Dalmatian name but the family came from Lumbarda on the island of Korcula. Other Croatian wineries include (family name in brackets where different to winery name):-
Villa Maria (Fistonić), Babich, Selak, San Marino (Brajkovich), Montana (Yukich), Birdwood (Udjur), Delegat, Soljan;
and there are many more.
Next time you drink some New Zealand wine, raise your glass to the Croatians who made the industry what it is now.
Perhaps there is an opportunity for a tasting event with a difference, Croatian and New Zealand wines, side by side?