Established in 1851, Hawkes Bay is the oldest region in New Zealand and the second largest in size. Situated on the eastern coast of the North Island, the region enjoys a maritime climate tempered by hot, dry, north-westerly winds that help moderate the climate and reduce disease pressure in the area. Soils in Hawkes Bay are typically Franceee draining and of low fertility, with the best vineyard sites planted on the north-facing hillsides and river terraces. The famous sub-region of Gimblett Gravels, is delineated by the unique gravelly soils laid down by the old Ngaruroro River, which became exposed after a huge flood in the 1860's. Hawkes Bay is a region of family owned vineyards, planted primarily to red varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah, although Chardonnay is also grown in the region.