Wine & spirits

The Insider's Guide to New Zealand - - SOUTH ISLAND -

Thank you, Por­tu­gal. Your clever mar­ry­ing of schisty soil and vines helped usher the same into Cen­tral

Otago via the vi­sion­ary-minded Rolfe Mills. When Rolfe passed through Por­tu­gal en route home from serv­ing in World War

II and saw the port-y good­ness they were wrest­ing from their schist-pocked land, he had a light-bulb mo­ment. That bulb flick­ered away un­til the 70s when he fi­nally had the op­por­tu­nity to ex­per­i­ment on the schisty farm­land (Wanaka Sta­tion) he in­her­ited from his grand­fa­ther. Peo­ple laughed at such folly, say­ing wine would never grow on such in­hos­pitable earth. In 1982 Rolfe and wife Lois proved them wrong. They planted the first com­mer­cial vines (the wine was made in the fam­ily garage) and be­came pi­o­neers of the now-boom­ing Cen­tral Otago wine re­gion. Rolfe died in 2000 but the vine­yard is still firmly in fam­ily hands. Even if there wasn’t the woo­ing fac­tor of a tast­ing room at the end of the drive to Rip­pon, the view from the carpark is ex­quis­ite enough to war­rant a visit: vines drop fetch­ingly down to Lake Wanaka, with Ruby Is­land and ma­jes­tic moun­tains bring­ing up the rear. 246 Mt As­pir­ing Road,

(03) 443 8084, rip­

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