The history and evolution of Central Otago wine is closely intertwined with the history and development at Gibbston Valley vineyard. Like other so called 'marginal' wine regions in the world, no one believed the climate was suitable for commercial winemaking. Even after commercial vineyards were making wine, it was deemed by the Ministry of Agriculture that there was no more than 400 hectares of land suited to grape growing in Central Otago, now there is over 2,000 hectares producing world-class wines.
Alan Brady was the figurehead and pioneering spirit behind Gibbston Valley. After spending several summers holidaying in the Gibbston area, Alan decided the climate and site had grape growing potential and proceeded to plant one of the first commercial vineyards in 1983. The first vines planted included Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noirs, now three of the region's most important varieties.
It wasn't long before others took note and vineyards slowly began to emerge in the other sub-regions of Central Otago.
Gibbston Valley was also one of the first vineyards in Central Otago to truly embrace tourism, and by building an underground Wine Cave, to age the wine, and a winery restaurant, to provide meals, they had started a perfect wine tourism venture.
Importantly for wine fans, this tourism venture hasn't detracted from an ongoing vision to continue making world-class wines. The wine making and viticulture teams are incredibly passionate about making great wines, from their young vines Gold River Pinot Noir through to some very exciting single vineyard Pinot Noirs and old vine, limited release aromatic white wines.
Must try wines include Gibbston Valley's Pinot Gris, rich and unctuous and a perfect food matching wine, the sublime, limited production Le Fou Riesling, well worthy of aging for 5-10 years, and the elegant, age worthy, Le Maitre Pinot Noir, named after Alan Brady, from the 30+ years old vines first planted by Alan Brady. Exciting times continue at Gibbston Valley.
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