GO NZ: The best organic wineries in Central Otago

Organic wineries add sustainability to the attractions of touring the diverse Central Otago wine region, writes Mark Sariban

With vineyards scattered across six sub-regions, each with their particular climatic conditions, there are plenty of distinctive – and award-winning – wines to sample when you explore Central Otago. But it’s not just the variety of wines that makes the region unusual: it’s also way ahead of other wine-growing areas in the country in adopting organic and biodynamic practices.

Roughly a quarter of vineyards in Central Otago’s Gibbston Valley, Cromwell, Bendigo, Bannockburn, Alexandra and Wanaka sub-regions are organic (via BioGro certification), biodynamic or are in the process of converting from conventional practices – compared to a national average of around 5 per cent.

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So why have Central Otago wine-makers taken to organic practices so enthusiastically? “It’s a region that lends itself to organics,” says Fraser McLachlan, director of Peregrine Wines in the Gibbston Valley. “We’re a very dry climate, which lowers our disease risk. Here we get a lot of sunlight. You can operate organically in Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay, where there’s more humidity and it’s wetter, but it’s a wee bit more challenging.”

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