Cel­lar doors open around Cen­tral Otago

Central Otago Mirror - - FOOD FOR THOUGHT - JILL HER­RON

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.

SUP­PLIED

Mark Ma­son’s new tast­ing room will be adding the farm’s honey to its shelves soon.

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