Arts and Culture

Wine

Central Otago is the most southern wine-producing region in New Zealand – and the world – and Pinot Noir is the “new gold!”  Try a bike tour around the Alexandra Basin vineyards.

You know you are in Central when you look up at the dry, rock-studded hills and mountains – not a decent tree to be seen. But these rugged schist ranges that surround the lower valleys provide the quick-draining stony soils and shelter from cool, damp coastal weather – ideal for growing grapes, and no problem with fungal disease! Central Otago has a semi-continental climate, with (usually) long, hot summer days and dry, sunny autumns. Cooler temperatures at night mean that the fruit ripens more slowly, producing more intense flavours – so we can all enjoy a prize-winning pinot at the end of a day on the trail.

As early as 1864 a French gold prospector, Jean Feraud (he became the first mayor of Clyde) saw the potential for grapes in the district. However, his vineyard suffered from lack of water. It took over a century before wine grapes were trialled again near Alexandra. Now, with the help of irrigation and frost-fighting methods, this is the fastest-growing wine region in the country.