Central Otago wineries: Sample world class Pinot Noir

Central Otago wineries are set amid some of New Zealand’s most spellbinding scenery and are largely renowned for producing world class Pinot Noir as well as some distinctive white wine varietals.

Ringed by snow-capped mountains interlaced with deep river gorges and crystal clear lakes, the world’s most southerly vineyards make use of the cool climate conditions and glacially derived soils to produce a portfolio of elegant wines that have been well received on the international stage.Central Otago wineries cover 1,932 hectares of vineyards and contribute only 2.4% to the country’s entire production, although this is mostly reserved for low yields of premium quality wines made from boutique estates.

The region’s close proximity to the South Island resort of Queenstown, which can be reached in less than one and a half hours, has made Central Otago (or simply ‘Central’ as the locals refer to it) wine tours extremely popular.At Wine Paths, our local expert in New Zealand can organise exclusive tours of Central Otago wineries, including elaborate tastings, fine dining experiences, luxury accommodation and some unique activities.All of our private tours can be individually tailored to meet your exact requirements, ensuring every detail is taken care of so that you can relax and enjoy the matter at hand – sampling world renowned wines surrounded by stunning landscapes.

Among the Central Otago wineries that we recommend is the Amisfield Winery and Bistro, which has won awards for its architectural elegance and the cuisine served from its on-site restaurant – many wineries feature on-site dining with wines paired with gourmet meals that can often be enjoyed al fresco.Amisfield produces some exceptional vintages from Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and method traditionelle sparkling varieties, while the bistro is famed for its sustainability philosophy and a ‘Trust the Chef’ menu that showcases the finest local produce using seasonal ingredients.

Our Sightseeing Excursion in the South Lakes Wine Region, visits the Amisfield Winery for lunch in between exploring the region, including the town of Arrowhead and a tour of Gibbston Valley and the surrounding lakes.Central Otago wineries are scattered across six sub-regions – Gibbston Valley, Bannockburn, Alexandra, Bendigo, Wanaka and the Cromwell Basin. Each carries its own unique expressions of wine, although Gibbston, which is known as the ‘Valley of the Vines’, is the most established and arguably one of the world’s most beautiful wine regions.Aside from its unrivalled natural beauty, Central Otago sets itself apart from many other regions with the quality of its produce and cuisine, with scores of award winning cafes and restaurants that have attracted leading chefs from around the world.

A Frenchman, Jean Desiree Feraud, is credited with planting the first vines in Central Otago after arriving in the region in 1862 to find his fortune as part of the Dunstan gold rush. The wines from here have been heavily influenced by his plantings and techniques to become some of the New Zealand’s most revered exports.There are now around 178 vineyards in the area constantly evolving region, with Pinot Noir reigning supreme with over 80% of plantings. The wines of Central Otago have a purity, intensity and vibrancy reflective of the region’s terroir and pure mountain air.The region also features New Zealand’s highest vineyards, while its inland mountainous location provides a semi-continental climate with hot summers, cold winners, fluctuations in daily temperatures and low rainfall that encourage wine growing.

If you are interested in visiting the best wineries Otago has to offer, contact Wine Paths for more information and inspirational ideas before planning a bespoke trip.

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