- Discovering the Joys of New Zealand Wine

Central Otago Wine Region

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Central Otago has the distinction of being the most southern wine region on the planet. It straddles the 45th parallel, just about like Burgundy. With the wineries centered around the towns of Cromwell and Alexandra, the region lies just to the east of Queenstown; one of the most isolated and cosmopolitan resort towns you will ever find. Stroll down the crowded main street and hear conversations in any number of languages, drop a few NZ dollars at one of the Internet cafes to catch up on your e-mail, and sign up for all sorts of activities from skiing, to bungy jumping, to jet-boat rides. For a spectacular view, take the Skyline Gondola. (By the way, those mountains are called "The Remarkables".)

The Central Otago wine region is characterized by long hours of daylight during the growing season; generally sunny and dry. By some sources, the weather is less consistant than other parts of New Zealand so pay attention to the vintage charts. The scenery reminds me of the California foothills. Dry terrain valleys and gorges in between snow-capped peaks.

The wine inustry in Cenral Otago is relatively young but they are starting to hit their stride with the varietals that click in that region. Not surprisingly, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Reisling are doing quite well. The Felton Road and Gibbston Valley Pinot Noirs are gaining recognition world-wide; Felton Road scored in the 90's from Mr. Parker (as they proudly note in their tasting room) and Gibbston Valley took a gold medal in 2001 at Wine Magazine's International competition.

Here is the list of wineries: