With its abundance of adrenaline fuelled activities, Queenstown is rightfully known as the adventure capital of the world. And with its towering snow capped peaks and crystal clear lakes and rivers, it’s also one of the most picturesque places on the planet. But bungy jumping, jet boating and stunning mountain vistas aren’t the only drawcards to this remote year round holiday wonderland. Unbeknown to many overseas travellers, Queenstown is also famous for its exceptional wine.
Queenstown is located in New Zealand’s south island, in the province of Central Otago, the world’s most southern wine region. An area quickly becoming famous worldwide for its charismatic boutique vineyards and exceptional cool climate wines. The oldest commercial vineyard in the region only planted its first grapes in 1983, yet Central Otago is widely regarded as one of the world’s top three Pinot Noir regions, along with Oregon in the USA and Burgundy in France. Even though Pinot Noir is undoubtedly Central Otago’s main attraction, there are several other cold-climate varieties also gaining global attention, including Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay and more recently some unique Sauvignon Blancs.
Wines have been grown in the region as early as 1880 but it was not until one hundred years later that four pioneers started to make wine near Queenstown that started an industry that we are all today thankful for.
Perfect soil, very hot summers, freezing snowy winters, very low rainfall, a continental climate and a maddening wind all make for the almost perfect grape growing conditions.
In 1987 Alan Brady produced Central Otago’s first commercial wine under his Gibbston Valley Wines brand. A brand that was to produce a world champion Pinot Noir 14 years later. Two retirements and two more fantastic wines and is Alan Brady really ready to hang up his shears?
Central Otago vine growing areas are divided into five separate sub-regions each with their own climate and weather: Bannockburn, Bendigo, Cromwell, Wanaka, and Gibbston.