In just 3 short days I take leave from the depths of a bitterly cold Willamette Valley winter for the late summer of New Zealand to participate as a winery intern during March, April and May at Akarua, a winery in Bannockburn, Central Otago. Here’s a short promotional video from Akarua…
As I am rushing a bit in my last minute preparations for travel, here’s a little background about Akarua, from their website, regarding Central Otago geography, viticulture, wines and the industry in general.
“At 45 degrees south, Central Otago is the world’s southernmost grape growing region. It is mountainous, rising to over 2,000 metres with vines planted amidst spectacular alpine scenery. The vineyards are the highest in New Zealand, located between 200 and 400 metres above sea level.
A combination of climate and soil give Central Otago wines their unique qualities and regional characteristics. While growing conditions are challenging and yields can be low in comparison with other warmer areas, the fruit quality and flavour intensity is exceptionally high.
Central Otago wines are hard won, a factor that adds to their scarcity, value and appeal. This feature is also echoed in the Akarua logo, which features the alpine daisy, Selmisia Semicordata, as a symbol that beauty is still achievable even in harsh climates like Central Otago.
The sub-regional story of Central Otago adds another layer of interest and credibility to the regions Pinot Noir capabilities. Seven distinct geographical sub-regions have been identified and with increasing vine age these different sub-regional characteristics are becoming more distinct.
Situated at the confluence of the Kawarau River and Lake Dunstan, Bannockburnis one of the warmer sub-regions and the most consistent in terms of its ability to ripen fruit every year and produce wines that have captured the minds and palates of fine wine drinkers around the world. The region has been referred to as “The Jewel in the Crown of Central Otago”.
Central Otago pinot noir is renowned for producing a fruit forward style of pinot noir, bright with excellent flavour definition and balance. As vine age has increased and winemaking techniques become more honed, we are seeing styles that have great fruit weight whilst showing excellent complexity and aging ability.
The pinot noir in Bannockburn is probably the most complete of any of the fruit found in Central Otago, producing wines that have great fruit and depth of flavor supported by fine tannins. Other sub regions often use some Bannockburn fruit in their blends.
The Central Otago wine industry is still small with a remarkable degree of cohesiveness. It reflects, amongst other things, the influence of the industry’s pioneers and their commitment to quality, willingness to share information and risk-taking, resourcefulness and perseverance.”
I am very excited to take this journey of vinous aesthetics so stay tuned for updates.