Central Otago’s loss is the Wairarapa and Wellington’s gain now that one of its star winemakers, Carol Bunn, has shifted locations and focus.
Expert winemaker Carol Bunn’s move to Wairarapa
You know what they say about taking the girl out of the countryside? Well, when that girl is Central Otago winemaker Carol Bunn, you can’t take the countryside out of her. So, when she moved home towns last year for the first time in her life, Bunn swapped one small town for another, only this time she has chosen the back blocks of the Wairarapa.
Her name is a byword for Central Otago Pinot Noir, but for the first time in her life, Bunn has taken her talent to the North Island and now lives midway between Martinborough and Carterton.
Bunn was born and bred in Arrowtown, where she lived and breathed her work. In 2014 she began commuting between there, Marlborough and Martinborough, working as a consultant winemaker on the run, until she was offered a job at the organically certified Urlar winery in central Wairarapa last year. Their organic certification appealed to Bunn’s sense of caring for the earth as part of the grape-growing and winemaking process. And she was attracted to the owner’s dedication to biodynamics – best described as an extreme dedication to sustainable farming. She also admired the wines of Urlar Estate, particularly the sauvignon blanc, riesling and pinot gris. Her partner, Larry McKenna, lives nearby in Martinborough – another, more personal, reason to relocate.
So it seemed like just the right time to make the big move north. While Bunn loves Central Otago and
misses home, she does not miss the changes she sees in the deep south.
“Arrowtown is almost like a little
Auckland now. I love it as the place
I grew up in, but it’s becoming a harder place to relax. Our family has a farm of a couple of hundred hectares and when the new cycleway was put through, it caused a lot of pressure because we had no choice in the matter. It has changed a lot for our family group. We all decided to work together closely with the Trails Trust and local council to get the cycleway trails where they needed to go on the farm.”
She now lives about 90 minutes’ drive from Wellington. It’s a convenient trip into the big smoke, but Bunn spends most of her down time in the thriving little town of Martinborough, which reminds her of how Central Otago used to be, prior to the discovery of its dramatic natural beauty and its rustic living history.
Now that the big move is done and dusted, she is happily ensconced in her new winemaking role at Urlar where she wants to build on the attractive qualities of the pinot noirs by allowing their fruity softness to shine more brightly. And a chardonnay might be in the pipeline too. Watch this space. g