The Environment

Clinging to arid soils amongst the mountains, rivers and lakes of Central Otago, Pinot Noir thrives.

Lauded as the most complex of mistresses and the greatest of all wines, Pinot Noir reaches it's peak potential in a semi-arid climate with hot days and cold nights. Central Otago is just such a place, with temperature changes of 20+ degrees in a single day over the growing season. The hot days give plenty of heat for the vines to photosynthesise and respire, but the cool nights slow down the ripening allowing the grapes to develop complexity and depth. Low rainfall contributes to keeping the bunches small and berry weights down, meaning we get exceptional concentration in our Pinot Noir. Low fertility, free-draining soils encourage deep root growth and with our average vine age increasing we're seeing incredible maturity and consistency with our vines. It's these challenging growing conditions along with the dedication and passion of our vinerons that make our Pinot Noir irrefutably Central Otago. 



Pinot Noir planted in the region

Besides Pinot Noir, many other cool-climate loving varieties are grown in Central Otago. Pinot Gris, the eponymous (and genetic) cousin of Pinot Noir is our most popular white variety, but Riesling is another variety that excels in this environment. Riesling is considered by many viticulturalists and winemakers to enjoy Central Otago even more than Pinot Noir and is often described as the 'hidden-gem' of the region. Small amounts of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gruner Veltliner, Gwertztraminer, Gamay and Syrah are also produced in the region and are often exhulted for their complexity and balance. 

+ 37º

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Situated at 45 degrees south, (a magical lattitude for Pinot Noir as both Burgundy and Oregon are 45-47 degrees) Central Otago experiences four full seasons. Winters are cold (reaching -10 degrees overnight), allowing the grapes to fully rest, and heat accumulation is modest over summer, giving the grapes a longer ripening period.

Spring brings some of our greatest challenges with frosts being a common threat to early growth on the vines. We are well prepared however and a combination of dedicated frost fighting regiemes and careful site selection are key strategies to mitigating the risk.

Summer is often a slow development period when the vines can build their modest cannopy and deepen their roots into the soil before producing small concentrated bunches. The summer is typically both hot and dry, which lowers disease pressure and keeps berry skin-to-juice ratios high.

The grapes come to maturity just as the season changes to autumn and the region begins to cool. This cool tail of summer allows for extended hang-time, enhancing the complexity and concentration of flavours in the grapes. Low rainfall over this time ensure disease doesn't spread and grapes maintain their concentration. By harvest, the clear nights drop temperatures back below freezing and the vines begin preparing for hibernation over winter, to be ready for the next season. 


Accumlated Heat

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Average annual sunshine


Central Otago’s vineyard soils are mostly described as "semi-arid" due to the hot summers and dry climate, with less than 400 mm rainfall a year (excluding Wanaka and Gibbston). Soils can be highly variable, even within a very short distance, depending on age of surface and the influence of recent management. Typically soils are formed from a mix of Schist and Greywacke parent materials that have been deposited by rivers and glaciers and are generally free-draining. Age of these surfaces can be anything from very recent (a few thousand years old) to older glacial deposited terraces in excess of 600,000 years old. Windblown silts (loess) have often been deposited over these surfaces, sometimes with a depth of more than 500mm.


Almost as important as the environment that the grapes are grown in, is how they are grown. The decisions made by grape growers and winemakers can have a significant impact on the final wine. Central Otago has a long history of collaboration from our early pioneers disseminating their learnings to our top winemakers sharing their expertise with the community. 

Central Otago is a relativley small region in the wine world, but our people share a commitment to producing the very best wines in the world. Imbued in that commitment is a shared sense of mutual progress, collegiality and alliance that underpins our culture. We are all working together to produce the finest wines in the world.