Vibrant

Our History

"There was no country on the face of the earth which produced better Burgundy grapes than were produced in Central Otago" - Romeo Bragato, 1895.

Imagine a land of extremes, where mountains meet lakes, and shield our deep valleys from the rain picked up in the Roaring Forties, leading to an arid landscape, where temperatures can reach 35C during the day and drop to freezing at night. Imagine a place with snow-capped mountains at any time of the year, and where the seasons are as distinct as our wines. You don’t have to imagine - come and experience Central Otago.

"There was no country on the face of the earth which produced better Burgundy grapes than were produced in Central Otago" - Romeo Bragato, 1895.

As custodians of our land for generations to come, we welcome you to explore To tatou wahi motuhake – our special place. From our big skies and rugged mountain peaks, glacial valleys and sparkling lakes, high adrenaline action adventure to more leisurely activites such as walking, cycling, golf and wine experiences, Central Otago and its wines will meet all your expectations...and beyond.

A brief history

Wine in Central Otago has been grown and made in the region since the 1860s Gold Rush. Jean Desire Feraud (1820 – 1898), a French goldminer purchased land near the township of Clyde and erected a small stone building on the site at Monte Christo. It was here the first Central Otago wines were made. Feraud’s wine went on to win the region's first gold medal for 'Burgundy', in Sydney, in 1881. 

In the late 19th century the government appointed Romeo Bragato to survey the country to assess & identify regions with great wine-growing potential. Bragato was astonished when he came to Central Otago, stating "there does not appear to me any statable limit to the productivness of that magnificient territory". He identified that cool-climate loving varities would thrive in Central Otago, including Pinot Noir & Riesling which now predominate in the region. 

 

“..there is a beautiful sense of uniqueness beginning to emerge. The energy of this region is very special, its striking landscapes are raw and you have to be alert”. - Rudi Bauer, Quartz Reef founder, NZ Wine Fellow.

However, despite Bragato’s foresight and optimism, stonefruit plantings dominated until the 1970s when a renewed interest and commitment by Central Otago’s winemaking pioneers, saw their dreams become reality, with the first modern commercial production of Pinot Noir in 1987. Known as the 'tight five' due to their mutual support and collaboration in the early years of viticluture the pioneers of Central Otago planted grapes in Whakatipu, Wanaka, Gibbston, and Alexandra. 

"There was no country on the face of the earth which produced better Burgundy grapes than were produced in Central Otago" - Romeo Bragato, 1895."Otago Winemakers" by Thomas Brown

Vineyard planting and production remained modest until the mid 1990s when the industry began to expand rapidly through the determination, persistence and passion of those who believed that Central Otago could become a significant Pinot Noir producing region.

With countless international awards, and repeated accolades from top wine reviewers, Central Otago has forged an enviable reputation as being the pre-eminent region for New Zealand Pinot Noir.