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Explore the Central Otago wine region

The beautiful landscapes isn't the only star of the show for the Central Otago region. A mix of rugged beauty and unbeatable craftsmanship is nestled away in the south island of New Zealand. Not just a classy wine region but a playground of fun. Dramatic southern slopes to glacial lakes, lets explore and unveil the secrets that lie within this region.

Climate & Terroir

What makes Otago a unique wine region?

The dramatic landscapes of Central Otago mix with highly elevated vineyards and unique soil compositions are a few key factors that make Central Otago a unique wine region. These unique combinations drive the distinctiveness of the region, the environment that fosters the production of exceptional wines, especially it's world renowned Pinot Noir.

How does the climate influence production?

The climate of Central Otago experiences a semi-continental climate* with significant temperature changes throughout the year. This climate is a pivotal role in shaping your favourite Pinot's with character and quality. Common hot summers and cold winters help grapes ripen slowly, develop more flavour and retain acidity better.

*Semi-continental climate is a climate that has significant variations in temperature for example, snow in the winter and hot days in the summer.

Does the terroir have an impact on the wine flavours?

Unique soil types, microclimates, topography and elevation are the main factors that Central Otago grapes thrive off. Known for gravelly soils that impart distinctive mineral characteristics, the diverse microclimates within Central Otago such as the Cromwell basin which is commonly a warmer spot compared to the Gibbston valley a cooler area add to a range of flavour profiles in their wines.

Grape Varieties

What grape varieties are grown in Central Otago?

Central Otago is known for its devilishly good Pinot grape, but that isn't where the production stops. Chardonnay is a another hot topic for the region with a true elegant and expressive style. Then you have Riesling, which is commonly made in smaller amounts. Famous for its high quality and aromatic characteristics. It also reflects the region where it is produced. But back to the Pinot, this grape holds account for majority of vineyard plantings across the region and Central Otago is celebrated for it.

What is the regions signature grape?

Pinot Noir, the undoubtedly leader of the tribe down in Central Otago. The grape seems to thrive in the unique climate and terroir, known for complexity and elegance the fruit is known to be vibrant, flavourful, a balanced acidity and shows distinctive mineral notes. The regions factors add up, central Otago have truly made their name and put themselves on the world stadium with these grapes.

Wine Styles

What are the typical characteristics you see in these wines?

Vibrant fruit flavours, particularly the pinot. balanced and well integrated tannins and acidity creating a smooth and approachable wine that ages gracefully. the unique soils that Central Otago offer (including gravel and schist) give great mineral character. Bright acidity, regions cool climate and diurnal temperature variations contribute to bright acidity providing freshness and structure.

The mix of climate and terroir is key to Central Otago wines. Marlborough and Hawke's Bay show a maritime climate which compared to Central Otago has a semi-continental climate with greater varying weather temperatures. Renowned for their Pinot Noir compared to Marlborough for sav or Hawke's Bay for Bordeaux styled reds, each NZ region specialises in grape varieties that excel in their climates and terroir.

Producers and Wineries

There are over 100 wineries and vineyards located in the Central Otago region that each represent their own unique propositions.

Mount Difficulty is a renowned name that every wine lover knows, they are widely recognized for their single-vineyard expressions of Pinot which are crafted from several subregions, showcasing the diversity of the regions.

Two Paddocks is another well known winery who produce wines that are small batch and handcrafted, prioritizing sustainable farming practises. Ceres is another awesome vineyard who is committed to organic and biodynamic farming methods, who produce a drool worthy Pinot Noir that should be on everyone's list to try.

Quartz Reef is another highly award-winning winery located in the heart of Otago. A fan favourite, this winery produces wines that are all certified NZ Biogro organic. They have a beautiful cellar door that is open to the public for a memorable experience.

Tourism and Visiting

Recommended wine trails and tours:

The highly popular central Otago wine trail is a must on everyone's list! Self guided tour that you will be emersed with picturesque landscapes and acclaimed wineries like Gibbston valley and Mount Difficultly. There's no rush, grab a map and pick and choose where you want to go.

There are several cycling tours that is another popular choice, a lot of companies offer guided or self guided bike tours or jump on the Otago central rail trail which goes through Bannock burn and Alexandra for a scenic route.

Another sought after experience is the Amisfield set lunch and dinner experiences, local food and award winning wines - go hand and hand.

Top 5 tips for a wine focussed trip to Central Otago

  1. Research your vineyards in advance, the region is jam packed with wineries that offer great experiences so grab a pen and paper and create yourself an itinerary of which wineries are top priority and save the least for next time.

  2. Explore the different subregions, don't stick central explore the beautiful Gibbston valley, Cromwell basin, Bannockburn and Wanaka - get amongst the beautiful views with short driving time and soak in the sun!

  3. Schedule in your tours and wine tastings, at such a hot spot of a location you need to book in advance. Wine tastings are a great way to learn more about the wines, an experience that is unbeatable from very knowledgeable teams.

  4. If you're taking a cheeky wine home, match it with a local cuisine whether its locally source meats, fresh seafood or artisanal cheeses - you get the best of both worlds and will fall in love with the region even more.

  5. Tee up your trip wit a local wine event or festivals, there is several wine events down in central Otago all year round, a fun local event that you can meet the locals and immerse yourself in such a fun and vibrant culture.
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