The Wairau Valley is one of two river valleys which make up the heartland of New Zealand's Marlborough wine region. It is named for the Wairau river, which flows from the Spenser mountains in the west to the ocean at Cloudy Bay. Wineries are spread across the towns of Blenheim and Renwick. The Wairau has a warmer and wetter climate than that of the Awatere Valley, which is drier and less fertile.
The valley's varied soil profiles are responsible for the significant variations in wine styles, and are considered to be the most distinctive feature defining the character of wines produced here. Shallow, stony and fast-draining soil patterns aid infertility, a condition which perfectly suits the region's main grape variety, Sauvignon Blanc.
In spite of these variations, the Wairau Valley Sauvignon Blanc is seen as unique and renowned worldwide because of its basic flavor characteristics: passionfruit, flint, gooseberry, capsicum, grapefruit and tropical fruits.
Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are other important grape varieties of the region. Sparkling wines made in the methode traditionelle are also highly regarded. The Marlborough Chardonnay is often described as being light when compared to other wine regions of New Zealand, and dominant in citrus characters.