Hawke's Bay is situated on the east coast of the North Island and is one of New Zealand's oldest and finest wine regions. Between 1858 and 1876, Hawke's Bay formed the Hawke's Bay Province as a Province of New Zealand, after being separated from the Wellington Province. The Hawke's Bay wine region includes the hilly coastal land around the central bay, the floodplains in the north, the wide fertile Heretaunga Plains in the south, and a hilly interior stretching up into the Kaweka and Ruahine Ranges. Hawke's Bay has long, hot summers and cool winters. The climate is dry and temperate. The conditions in the hills favor Chardonnay which is the most important vine variety with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot also widely planted.