A key producer of six varietals, Rockburn takes its name from the rugged rock-strewn, burn-scarred landscape of Central Otago. The climate and conditions here are extreme; but so is the local passion for wine, in particular Pinot Noir. Rockburn is the product of a love of wine and for Central Otago, and winemaker Malcolm Rees-Francis’ zeal for Central Otago Pinot Noir is evident in the finely textured, silky charm exhibited in every vintage.
Born into a South Canterbury sheep farming family, Malcolm Rees-Francis grew up with an innate respect for the land and climate, but no great love for sheep. Studying Microbiology at the University of Otago only lead to dissatisfaction with laboratory work, so his next (less than obvious) step was a vintage in Marlborough. Barely knowing the difference between red and white wine meant the learning curve was a steep one, but the epiphany that even tank cleaning could be strangely satisfying thrust a terrible addiction upon poor Malcolm.
This addiction to wine and its craft drove him through the sordid squalor of Lincoln University and deposited him amid the dusty tors of Central Otago, where Pinot Noir rules with an iron fist (although it wears a velvet glove). He was spoiled working as Assistant Winemaker at Felton Road but only in 2006 did he fully succumb to his dreadful addiction by taking the position of Winemaker with Rockburn.