Sci­ence, hard work and na­ture

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - JILL HERRON

A cel­lar door that gives vis­i­tors a true taste of Kiwi is the lat­est ini­tia­tive at Maori Point Vine­yard.

Own­ers Mar­i­lyn Dux­son and John Har­ris, and Mag­gie and Matt Evans have all come to Tar­ras from aca­demic back­grounds, to cre­ate wines in har­mony with what is a chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

Mar­i­lyn and John both taught and had re­search labs at Otago Univer­sity’s Med­i­cal School. They met and be­came friends with Mag­gie who at the time was do­ing a PHD in an­i­mal fer­til­ity con­trol. All three have doc­tor­ates and Mag­gie’s hus­band Matt, a Cal­i­for­nian wine­maker, has an MBA.

With sim­i­lar as­pi­ra­tions in sci­ence-based, sus­tain­able vine­yard man­age­ment, the two cou­ples for­malised their busi­ness part­ner­ship last year and re­cently cre­ated a tast­ing room to show­case their wines.

Mar­i­lyn says small func­tions will be hosted in the fu­ture but daily tast­ings are al­ready at­tract­ing vis­i­tors to the new cel­lar door, which opened in midOc­to­ber. As well as the wines, peo­ple were en­joy­ing the big skies and spec­tac­u­lar moun­tain back­drops which give the site an open, spa­cious feel.

With hun­dreds of na­tive plants now es­tab­lished, soils build­ing and honey bees thriv­ing, the vine­yard is com­ing into its own. It’s a big plot – over 30ha – with 6.5ha planted pre­dom­i­nantly in pinot noir with 1.5ha of pinot gris. On one side is the Clutha River and on the other, beyond Maori Point Road, large-scale sheep, beef and dairy-graz­ing farms.

From a bare-land start about 15 years ago the pic­turesque vine­yard to­day is a tes­ta­ment to a lot of hands-on graft. The re­wards are there now, with vin­tages at­tract­ing swags of awards and five star re­views.

There’s no pre­ten­sion, how­ever, at this very Kiwi grass-roots op­er­a­tion. They are equally proud of the top-end pinots as they are of the charm­ing Gold Dig­ger Friz­zante – es­sen­tially ‘bub­bly in a beer bot­tle’.

‘‘It’s one of our stars, like an Ital­ian pros­ecco but not so sweet and the bot­tles are so prac­ti­cal to take on a pic­nic or when you don’t want to open a big bot­tle. It’s been a run-away suc­cess and we’ve sold 1200 cases this year.

‘‘We don’t want peo­ple to just feel like they are in just an­other tast­ing room that could be any­where in the world, we want them have a unique New Zealand ex­pe­ri­ence.’’

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