New Zealand - Central Otago

Central Otago located in the south of New Zealand’s South Island is the world’s most southerly commercial wine growing region.

Vines were first planted by gold prospectors in the 1860s, but the wine industry did not survive for long on a commercial basis. From the 1950s to 70s small scale trial plantings of vines began again by private individuals and backing of the New Zealand Department of Agriculture. By 1980 small scale commercial plantings to be made but production remained modest until the middle of the 1990s when the industry began to expand rapidly.

In 1996 there were just 11 wineries in the Central Otago region, according to New Zealand Winegrowers, accounting for just 4.6% of the national total. By 2004 this had risen to 75 wineries and 16.2%. Over the same period, the area planted with vines rose from 92 ha (1.4% of the national total) to 1,062 ha (5.1%).

Pinot Noir is the leading grape variety, estimated to account for some 70% of plantings. The other 30% of production comes from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer.