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With international tourism on hold, domestic tourism is going to be a make or break for many businesses. I sense a mood in which people are eager to explore their own backyards, and to support local businesses.
I cast my mind back to a domestic tourism campaign in the 1980s, which had the catchphrase "Don’t leave town till you’ve seen the country". It gently mocked the number of New Zealanders who had jetted off to Europe, the Americas and Australia yet had little knowledge of their own country. I eagerly took on that challenge, spending holidays over many years criss-crossing the length and breadth of New Zealand. Today, that catchphrase is ever more pertinent.
Wine tourism has become an important aspect of our tourism offering, but currently, many of our wineries are doing it tough. If you are planning to explore our region, do think about adding a trip to a winery cellar door or three. They would be eager to see you!
There are parallels to the locavore movement in which people look to source food grown locally, through farmers markets and the like, getting a greater understanding of where and how it is grown. I have a similar feeling when I visit a winery cellar door in seeing the land where the wine is grown and made, and engaging with the staff who are invariably eager to share their passion and enthusiasm for "their" bit of dirt, and the wines it produces. This just adds to the pleasure when you drink the wine at home.
The i-Sites across Central Otago will have copies of the Central Wine map, which lists all the local wineries, including opening times for the many which have a cellar door, and contact details for those who accept visits by appointment. Don’t forget the Waitaki Valley, New Zealand’s smallest wine region with its two cellar doors (with River-T Estate acting as a store front for a raft of local wineries). Check the Kurow i-Site for opening times.
Given the winter season and post-lockdown uncertainty, not all wineries will necessarily be open or else may be running on reduced hours, so it would be handy to call or email first to confirm.