New Zealand is a country of magnificent beauty. Luckily, one if its most stupendous settings is a wine region on the south island. Anchored by the charming city of Queenstown, this area offers breathtaking natural beauty…in every direction. Imagine crystal clear alpine lakes, dazzling river gorges cut by millennium-old glaciers, wild verdant forests, and jagged snow-capped peaks. For years Queenstown has been popular among extreme sports enthusiasts (hang-gliding, mountain-biking, white-water rafting …even bungee-jumping was even invented in the area). Now, its audience has expanded to include wine and food lovers.
The Central Otago wine region (as the wine district is called) is home to the globe’s most southern commercial wine region. Located on the 45th latitude, it is further south of the equator than South Africa, Australia, Chile or Argentina’s wine areas. In the 70’s it was thought to be too cold to make wine in this region, but all of that has radically changed. Queenstown’s surrounding vineyards are now making some show-stopping wines.
Vineyard plantings in area of the Central Otago district expanded in the 1990’s after research showed that this region could produce world-class wines. In 1996 there were only 11 wineries. Today there are more than 130. Varietals that thrive best in cool climates have been planted. Pinot Noir accounts for nearly 80% of the current vines, along with Chardonnay, Sauv Blanc, and Riesling.
Here are my favorites from Central Otago, all of which are available in the US. These are well-crafted wines, and many offer fairly good value. Listed in alpha order:
- · Felton Road Pinot Noir or Chardonnay
- · Maude Point Pinot Noir or Riesling
- · Mt. Difficulty Long Gully Pinot Noir
- · Two Paddocks Pinot Noir
- · Valli Pinot Noir (Bannockburn, Gibbston or Bendigo vineyards are all good)
Why not buy a bottle and soak up some of the area’s stunning scenery in your glass? Or, buy all of the above and host a wine tasting party of wine made from the world’s southern-most vineyards? A third option is to join Wine-Knows on its last trip to New Zealand for the harvest in March 2020. Come experience up-close-and-personal the majestic splendor of this exquisite area. Learn about and enjoy these extraordinary wines from the pros. www.WineKnowsTravel.com