After Arrowtown we proceeded to the wine country of Central Otago. Prior to coming to New Zealand we had only been familiar with NZ Sauvignon Blanc. Not being fans of Sauvignon Blanc we weren't expecting any vinifera adventures.
Turns out that NZ makes very nice Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris & claret-style wines. The only downside is that they weren't imported into the US in any volume at the time of our visit. By 2020 this had changed and we are now able to purchase NZ Pinot Noir & Pinot Gris at Costco. Yum!
We followed the Kawarau Gorge to the vineyards of Central Otago. This area is problematic for grapes because of the danger of late spring freezes. Nevertheless, vineyards abound in every possible location.
The soft mauve color of the hills is due to wild thyme.
We stopped at Wild Earth Winery to learn more about viticulture and wine production. Our presenters were Tim Deaker, the son of Michael Deaker, who spoke to us in Dunedin, and owner and ex-pat American vintner Quintin Quider.
This is the first time that this particular segment has been included in the program and even the guides were surprised at how marvelous it was.
The presentations were informative and the food and wine pairings outstanding!
We crossed the Kawarau Gorge on a footbridge to visit the winery adjacent to the Goldfields Mining Centre mentioned in the link. We did not visit Goldfields.
More vineyards as we proceed toward Wanaka.
The netting keeps birds from damaging the ripening grapes.
Yet more vineyards.
Vineyards are planted in many configurations.
There are a variety of ways to protect the vines from late freezes: fans, smudge pots, water spritzers, even helicopters for those with deep pockets!
Our hotel was outside of town on Lake Wanaka. An act of parliament singled out this lake for protection in 1973. There is now an organization dedicated to its preservation.
I enjoyed a pleasant walk along the lakeshore after we settled in.
I passed Rippon Vineyard, but didn't visit the tasting room.
The grapes were just beginning to ripen. These are old vines as shown by the gnarled base stock.
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