Viticulture ties renewed

A visit by French winegrowers from Burgundy is expected to endorse Central Otago's reputation as an international producer of quality pinot noir.

''The Climats of Burgundy'' delegation, led by Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, presented its case to the New Zealand Government yesterday to support a nomination for the Burgundy region to be listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

The delegation will now spend five days in Queenstown, culminating in the Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration from January 30 to February 1.

Wanaka winegrower and visit organiser Nick Mills, of Rippon, said the visit would include a winegrowers' seminar, a masterclass tasting for growers, a grand tasting, where Central Otago winegrowers present their 2012 pinot noir vintage, and a formal tasting and discussion of six wines sent by the Climats of Burgundy delegation.

There would also be lunches at a range of wineries and restaurants, a formal dinner and charity auction at Skyline restaurant and a visit to the Otago Polytechnic campus in Cromwell, which is the region's viticultural institute.

Mr Mills said the ''long and important connection'' between Burgundy and Central Otago has resulted in about 40 interns - the next generation of winemakers from Burgundy - studying here and returning to France with progressive ideas.

Celebration chairwoman Jen Parr, of Terra Sancta, Bannockburn, said: ''The greater understanding of our unique climate and our vineyards, gained from increased knowledge and experience over this period has helped Central Otago achieve great consistency of character and quality in our wines.

''These views will be discussed at the four-day celebration and shared with the Burgundian delegation.''