Embracing freedom

As we have traversed the alert levels recently, our hard-won gains against Covid-19 have allowed businesses to reopen, and society to embrace the freedoms which we once blithely took for granted, yet there remains an understanding that for many businesses — particularly those with a tourism component — tough times still lie ahead. 

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.

2017 Cox’s Vineyard
Pinot Noir
Price: $70
Rating: Excellent
Sweet perfume, sawn timber, strawberry, red fruits, savoury notes and wild herbs with aeration. Bold, sweetly fruited, youthful palate with tangy coolness too, adding cranberry, tamarillo and earthy notes, gathering stalk/herbal notes as the wine grows in the glass. Much complexity as it flows to a long close. Should be fun to see this develop.
— Cellar door and gallery open by appointment
2018 Te Kano
Central Otago
Pinot Noir
Price: $49
Rating: Very good to excellent
Vegemite on warm baguette, dusty stones, red fruits, with rhubarb and cherry liqueur/medicinal nuances evolving over time. Youthful palate with grainy tannins, whole bunch stalk notes and spices with freshness and crispness. The ingredient is here, but this still needs some time to show its best.
— Cellar door open in Felton Rd, Bannockburn


2018 Hawkshead
First Vines
Pinot Noir 
Price: $64.95
Rating: Excellent
Bonfire smoke, fragrance, flirting with a wild/funky note before shifting to savoury and herb characters. This youthful expression is tight at first but opens up to cherry fruit, char, savoury and herb notes, aeration bringing a schisty/saline vein. The structure is evident, a coolness too, with fragrance hanging on the finish. 
— Kinross in the Gibbston Valley runs a cellar door for Hawkshead 



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