Ringed by mountains interlaced with lakes and deep river gorges Central Otago is New Zealand’s most spectacular setting for vineyards. At the southern tip of the wine map this ruggedly beautiful environment offers growers and winemaking conditions that are both challenging and rewarding.
Central Otago is the Southern-most grape-growing region in the world located at latitude 45º south. The first wine-grapes were planted in Central Otago back in 1864 and despite the district’s potential as a wine growing area being recognized by French and Australian viticulturists from the 1860’s onward, wine-grapes were not commercially grown again in Central Otago for more than a century.
Today Central Otago is well known for our premium Pinot Noir and dramatic landscape that won’t be easily matched anywhere in the world! Modern day wine growing began with a trial wine-grape vineyard that was planted at the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) orchard near Alexandra in 1972 and shortly followed in 1975 with experimental plantings at Rippon Vineyard, Lake Wanaka. The first commercial release of a Pinot Noir from Central Otago was the 1987 vintage from pioneer Alan Brady at Gibbston Valley winery. The rest, as they say, is history.
45º North and 45º South are very different worlds. In the temperate zones, global winds flow West to East round the planet. In the North, that journey takes them through heavily populated and industrialised regions. In the South, there is only Central Otago and Patagonia. While well over 100 million people live between 44º and 46º North, there are less than 400,000 living in the Southern strip. This reflects in a lack of pollution and disease pressure - there is no vineyard in Central Otago within 200 kms of a traffic light! We believe the natural health of our vines is a reflection of our isolation. It may be a bit quiet in the evening, but the grapes don’t mind that!