One of New Zealand’s most scenic wine regions, Central Otago produces some of the best Pinot Noir in the world along with vivid white wine varietals.
Ringed by mountains and interlaced with lakes and deep river gorges, vineyards in Central Otago are truly spectacular. Here the cool climate, combined with glacially derived soils, means wineries here produce a highly elegant pinot noir and some quietly impressive white wine varietals.
Wine production is spread across six sub-regions, including the Cromwell Basin, Bendigo, Bannockburn, Gibbston, Alexandra and Wanaka. Located in close proximity, but with distinctive mountainous terrain, each occupies a unique niche of climate, aspect and altitude.
Gibbston, located east of central Queenstown along Kawarau Gorge, is the highest sub-region with north-facing hillside wineries. The Gibbston River Ride is a great way to soak in the scenery and tasting your way through the best drops. Among the popular wineries in the region are Amisfield Winery & Bistro, Brennan Wines, Chard Farm Winery, Coal Pit Wine, Gibbston Valley Winery, Mt Rosa Winery, Peregrine Wines and Waitiri Creek Wines. Chard Farm and Gibbston Valley wineries are among the oldest in the region and counted among the pioneers of Central Otago’s wine industry. Most wineries have onsite restaurants and cafes with world-class chefs who’re attracted to the region for bounty and natural appeal.
The Cromwell Basin, Bannockburn and Bendigo together account for a majority of wine production in Central Otago. Located a short drive from Queenstown, it is home to celebrated wineries such as Mount Difficulty, Rockburn, Felton Road and Carrick Winery – all with cellar doors. Wine tours are a great way to explore the wineries in these regions and learn about the region’s history through the knowledgeable guides. The 4 Barrels Walking Wine Trail is a good way to experience four of Central Otago's premium wine-tasting rooms.
Alexandra, the most southerly sub-region, is where John Feraud first planted vines successfully in 1864. His stone winery still stands within spectacular schist landscapes. Its aromatic wines are a result of its dry and extreme climate. Most wineries here have cellar doors that open by appointment, including Three Miners, Two Paddocks (owned by actor Sam Neill) and Dry Gully. Among wineries that have tasting rooms are Black Ridge, Hinton Estate and Shaky Bridge.
Wanaka is the smallest of the wine sub-regions in Central Otago but boasts one of the most spectacularly located wineries in the world – Rippon Vineyard. It is also known as a pioneer of Central Otago’s wine evolution. Maude Wines is another vineyard in the area worth a visit.
What sets Central Otago’s wine experience apart from many others is its exceptionally high-quality produce and the cuisine. It is home to talented chefs from around the world and a number of award-winning cafes and restaurants – completing your perfect wine experience.