Flanked by the cool south Pacific Ocean to the east and the high peaks of the Southern Alps to the west, the Waitaki River is one of New Zealand’s largest, draining the waters of our highest Mountain Aoraki-Mount Cook.
About the region
The North Otago subregion of Waitaki Valley has created a buzz far in excess of its tiny size. With vines first planted in 2001, it’s a relative newcomer to viticulture but the complex limestone/greywacke/schist soils and very cool climate with a long, dry growing season has attracted the passions of a handful of adventurous and focused producers. Located approximately 20km inland from the mouth of the Waitaki River on the North Otago/South Canterbury boundary, the Waitaki Valley is similar in varieties and wine styles to its nearby winegrowing neighbour, Central Otago, but the subtle differences in climate and soils give a distinctly different personality to Waitaki Valley’s wines.
Expect to find highly aromatic, delicately structured wines with notable but balanced acidity and very pure, expressive varietal character. Pinot Noir is the predominant variety planted, alongside aromatic whites Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer plus a smattering of Chardonnay and other white varieties, this is winegrowing on the edge - there is little margin for error and carefully chosen vineyard sites and low cropping is essential. However Waitaki Valley wines have excited those lucky enough to find them, and it is clearly a region to watch as its potential unfolds.