The Wineries of Wanaka & Central Otago
Wine making is as much part of Wanaka life as any other adventure
At 45 degrees south, Central Otago is the southernmost wine region in the world and some of its vineyards are the highest in New Zealand. The elegant boutique wines produced here – especially Pinot Noir but also Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling – have put this relatively young wine region on the map.
From small beginnings, by 2010 the wineries in the Central Otago region numbered around 95, and wine-tasting tours are as much a part of the local experience as adventure activities.
Two wineries in the Wanaka sub-region stand out: Maude and Rippon, neighbours of Whare Kea Lodge.
In January 2012, acclaimed UK wine critic Jancis Robinson wrote, “Of course it is well known that Central Otago, the far south of New Zealand’s South Island, is a hot spot for Pinot Noir… Producers such as Felton Road and Rippon are working tirelessly to ensure that each year’s wines are more subtle and interesting than the last.”
RIPPON VINEYARD AND WINERY
Established by Rolfe and Lois Mills, Rippon is now run by son Nick, who worked as a winemaker in Burgundy for four years, and his wife Jo, also a winemaker. The 15-hectare vineyard has two distinct areas, Lakeside and the Hillside. In both, the vines are planted in decomposing schist soils but each block has a distinct character.
Rippon is an artisan winery known for its biodynamic approach to the vines, and produces Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Gamay Rosé and, of course, Pinot Noir. Neighbouring Whare Kea Lodge, Rippon can be visited for tasting at the cellar door.
Set on Mount Maude in the beautiful Maungawera Valley between Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea, the situation of the vineyard, established in 1994, is superb.
Winemakers Sarah-Kate and Dan Dineen joined Sarah-Kate’s parents, Terry and Dawn Wilson, to develop Maude Wines and Mount Maude Vineyard (Maude wines use a blend of sourced grapes whereas Mount Maude wines are made only with grapes from that vineyard). They produce Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.
Wanaka is also close to Bannockburn, Gibbston and Cromwell Basin, other acclaimed winemaking sub-regions of Central Otago.