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Where to Sip Pinot Noir in Central Otago

The South Island region makes only 2.4% of New Zealand’s wine, but wins lots of awards

 
Rough Guide to New Zealand, 10th edition

The hilly region of Central Otago, northwest of Dunedin on New Zealand’s South Island, has only been growing grapes commercially since the 1980s, and still only makes 2.4 per cent of the country’s wine, but, says the 10th edition of the Rough Guide to New Zealand, “local winemakers have garnered shelves full of trophies, especially for the elegant, fruit-driven Pinot Noirs which make up the bulk of production.”

Central Otago has more than 130 wineries, with dozens of cellar doors open to visit. “You can drive to most of them,” says the guidebook, “but you’ll appreciate the experience a lot more if you join one of the wine tours that depart from Queenstown or Cromwell.”

Cromwell’s 4 Barrels Walking Wine Trail uses a map, free at the local tourist office, to set out an eight-kilometre, half-day route linking four wineries: Micha’s Vineyard, Aurum Wines (tasting here are free), Wooing Tree Wines and Scott Base.

Sixty kilometres to the west, Queenstown, “New Zealand’s premier resort town,” has two wine tours recommended by the guidebook. Appellation Central Wine Tours (www.appellationcentral.co.nz) has a half-day tour with a platter lunch, and a full-day gourmet experience that includes lunch, plus cheese and chocolate tastings. Both visit four wineries. The Queenstown Wine Trail (www.queenstownwinetrail.co.nz), “run by a local family who know the region inside out,” has a three-winery afternoon tour and a full-day, five-winery tour with lunch. Both companies also do private and custom tours.

Also consider Amisfield (www.amisfield.co.nz), a top winery and “one of New Zealand’s defining dining experiences.”

 

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