Promoting and protecting wineries
Central Otago is the world’s southern-most commercial wine growing region and the seventh largest in New Zealand.
It’s a unique and special area and one that continues to have huge potential.
From Cromwell and Bannockburn, to Wanaka and Queenstown, the wines that are being produced by vineyards in this region are top class.
Around the world wines from the Central Otago area are celebrated and enjoyed and as the reputation of this area continues to grow I believe it’s important that this brand is protected.
I am proud to have been involved in promoting new legislation to give legal recognition to Central Otago as a wine producing region.
From next month, legislation allowing winemakers to register the geographical origin of their product will come into force.
The regional name Central Otago is a key part of the New Zealand wine story and an important marketing platform which needs to be protected.
The new legislation amends the Geographical Indications (Wines and Spirits) Registration Act, which was passed in 2006, but never brought into force.
The Central Otago Winegrowers Association is well advanced in drafting its geographical indications application. Once the application is approved, individual wineries will be able to use the Central Otago region in their branding, as long as 85 percent of the grapes used are grown in the area.
I see it as a major step forward for the wine industry, allowing local vineyards the opportunity to acknowledge and safeguard what is special about the area. It will also make it easier for exporters to promote and protect their wines in some overseas markets.
Once applications have been lodged it will take about six to nine months to process them.
As well as applications for regions, individual or groups of wineries could also apply for geographical recognition for smaller areas, such as Cromwell, Wanaka or the Gibbston Valley.
I was in Cromwell recently and was delighted to visit the new tasting room of local winery Misha’s Vineyard. Misha and Andy Wilkinson shared the amazing story of the development of their vineyard and how in just over a decade they have achieved amazing success, exporting to 20 countries internationally.
The recent opening of their local tasting room, which is believed to be one of the biggest in Central Otago, reflects a move to respond to the growing visitor and tourist market in the area.
Misha’s Vineyard was also celebrating after their ‘‘Limelight Riesling’’ was named in this year’s Air New Zealand Fine Wines of New Zealand list. In fact Central Otago vineyards should take a bow, with 12 of the 60 wines selected coming from the region.
❚ Jacqui Dean is the Member of Parliament for Waitaki. This is her final Mirror column before September’s general election.
Jacqui Dean, MP for Waitaki