Central Otago’s rise to Pinot Noir prominence has been meteoric. It went from zero to 1200ha planted in Pinot Noir inside 22 years. Today that figure stands at 1484ha. The region and the variety are inextricably linked and enjoy a global reputation.
Frenchman Jean Feraud probably planted Pinot Noir in Central Otago in the 19th century. In the modern era, the first experimental vines appeared in the mid-1970s.
Central Otago’s physical beauty has made it our most photographed wine region. It consists of a number of river valleys flanked by soaring mountains, with Lake Dunstan at the centre. As a region it is relatively far-flung, and distinct sub-regional differences have emerged.
Schist and greywacke predominate underfoot. Clays and heavy silt loams also feature on the Central Otago soil map.
The climate of Central Otago is as continental as you get in New Zealand. No town is further from the coast than Cromwell, the region’s hub. The winters are snow swept while the summers dry and hot. The annual rainfall is among the lowest in the country. The growing season is short and intense, which leads to berries typically larger than those grown in regions further north.