Cellar doors open around Central Otago
The Cromwell Basin is strengthening its position as a wine destination after the recent opening of a new batch of tasting rooms.
It was a natural progression, Graeme Crosbie of Domain Road Vineyard, says to open a sevenday-a-week, purpose-built tasting space. It has been 15 years since he and wife Gillian began their wine adventure, working hard to establish a customer base nationally and internationally.
For Central Otago producers, geography helps provide the x-factor that make the region’s wines so good, but also puts up the biggest hurdle to success.
‘‘We are so far away from our markets, it’s hard getting our wines out there because people want to see someone from the vineyard itself. You just have to travel.’’
When the industry was going through a slow patch some years ago, the couple decided to go against the flow and expand. This is the third harvest off their Defiance Vineyard, the site of their modern and quirky new cellar door. Constructed from shipping containers, it juts out from the hillside.
Also opening in mid-January was Quest Vineyard’s Cellar Door, in the Freeway Orchard complex off the main highway into Cromwell. Mark Mason likes living off the grid on Quest’s 145ha working farm and vineyard.
The east-west lying plantings – predominantly pinot noir – are at Parkburn on the LuggateCromwell Road.
Mark says the tasting room is all about building relationships with customers – meeting the people and sharing the Quest story.
‘‘It was kind of a quest to find what the land would lend itself to, how it would respond and it was pretty rough before we started.’’
Cromwell’s newest addition to the tasting room tour is Mishas Vineyard, next door to Quest at Freeway. Vineyard owners Andy and Misha Wilkinson have a 57-hectare estate on the edge of Lake Dunstan at Bendigo near Tarras, but felt a more centrally located tasting room would be easier for guests to access.
‘‘It’s been a long time in the
‘‘We wanted to bring the atmosphere of the vineyard into the tasting room ’’
planning but we finally have a place we can call ‘home’ – for our wines. We are excited to be embarking on this new phase of our business at a time when the region and the town of Cromwell is growing,’’ Misha says.
The Wilkinsons designed their new facility with the wine tourist in mind, Andy says.
‘‘We wanted to bring the atmosphere of the vineyard into the tasting room so three walls have large-scale photographic murals by renowned local pho- tographer Tim Hawkins.
Desert Heart owner Denny Downie says their new tasting facility was built due to the development of their new vineyard at the far end of the now-famous Felton Road.
In town, Wine Solutions in Cromwell’s industrial area plans to open its doors for tastings in the near future and up the highway at Tarras, Maori Point Vineyard is nearing completion of a new facility to continue its offerings for tastings on-site.
Remarkable Wines owner Richard Guthrey says their new cellar door at Cairnmuir Road, Bannockburn will allow him to be based at the vineyard rather than travelling to Gibbston to the vineyard’s other property.
High on the hill at nearby Bendigo, Hayden Johnson is working to ready his new wine and function venue at Tarras Vineyard and across the valley at Queensbury, Archangel Vineyard, have also built an attractive tasting room and venue.
Mark Mason’s new tasting room will be adding the farm’s honey to its shelves soon.