Queenstown is surrounded by wineries and vineyards. The area’s microclimate makes it perfect for cultivating a variety of grapes. Pinot Noir features prominently in the selection, with Chardonnay following very closely behind. If you’re keen to get a feel for the local viticulture, make sure to stop by these incredible destinations in the Central Otago region.
Known for its exquisite wine tasting experience and unique underground cellar tours, Gibbston Valley is the place to fully relish everything about local wine production. The winery, which was established in the 1980s, is considered a pioneer in the industry — founder Alan Brady is credited as being one of the very first to see the potential grape-cultivating potential of the Central Otago region. Since their first vintage was released in 1987, Gibbston Valley Winery has earned a strong enough reputation to become one of the most visited in New Zealand.
Amisfield is the closest vineyard to Queenstown, making it an ideal place for a day trip. Established in 1988, this winery specialises in Pinot Noir and aromatic white wines. All of these are aptly showcased at Amisfield’s Bistro and Cellar. Surrounded by mountains and the idyllic Lake Hayes, Amisfield is a popular place for a bit of scenic dining too. In the winter months, the roaring fireplace inside the stunning stone building will keep you cozy during your degustation.
Peregrine’s accolades go beyond wine production: the winery’s stunning architecture has its fair share of awards under its belt too. A beautiful winged roof, an exquisitely crafted cellar door, and some seemingly rugged terrains leave a lasting impression as you explore this South Island institution. Peregrine’s first vintage was produced in 1998, and the vineyard specialises in Pinot Noir, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Sauvingnon Blanc cultivation.
Wanaka’s Rippon is renowned for its awe-inspiring views and Pinot Noir wines. The vineyard is located on the route to Mount Aspiring, overlooking Lake Wanaka and the surrounding mountains. A dedicated tasting room, where you can sample local wines and cheeses, is open from December to April. Rippon Hall, where the cellar door is situated, is also going to amaze with its beautiful architecture and panoramic vistas.
Located in Bannockburn, a little less than one hour’s drive from Queenstown, Carrick is a boutique vineyard that thrives on all things organic, not just in their wine production, but within their restaurant too: free-range hens provide eggs for the restaurant, and local produce is carefully selected to complement the tasting menus. All grapes are picked and pruned by hand, and Carrick’s wines cover all the bases: from classic Pinot Noirs to Chardonnays and everything in between.
Bannockburn’s Terra Sancta is made up of four vineyards, which are open for public viewing in the summer months — appointments need to be made any other time of the year. Their signature Single Block wines are primarily produced with Pinot Noir grapes. There are two distinctive areas in The Estate, which is surrounded by trees and fertile soils. There’s the Terra, which borders the river, and the Sancta, which runs along Felton Road. The other two vineyards are known as the Diggings and The Irresistible Race.
Situated on a hill in Bannockburn that overlooks the Cromwell Basin, Mt Difficulty is the perfect place to sit back, relax, and enjoy a quiet meal as you appreciate the scenery. Wine enthusiasts and diners alike will be charmed by the hospitable cellar and tasting room, which was expanded in 2011 to include a private degustation area. As for the vineyards, these were planted in the 1990s and have been named after historic gold mining points — including Target Gully, Mansons Farm and Long Gully.
Quartz Reef in Cromwell was founded in 1996, and is home to New Zealand’s largest quartz deposit (hence their name). They are quite renowned for a range of sparkling wines, but their scope goes above and beyond this. Two vineyards, covering 30 hectares (74 acres), are composed of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay grape varieties. A small plantation of Gruner Veltliner was cultivated in 2008, too. The Quartz Reef tasting room is open every day of the week during the summer — you’ll be able to chat with the owners and winemakers, who will tell you all about the local production and history.
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