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Regional Studies
Other Regions of Central Otago
 - David Farmer

There are other small vineyard areas that were not examined. One of interest is Lindis River near Tarras which is probably on a river terrace cover with the interest being that it is in the north east corner of the Cromwell Basin. If this area turns out to be favourable it would open up a very large new area for viticulture.

Wanaka and the Surrounding Area

At the southern end of Lake Wanaka is the Rippon vineyard, perhaps the most pioneering of the Otago vineyards and one of the most daring established anywhere in the world in the last 50 years. It was daring because it was a leap into the unknown in the most marginal of climates for vines with no other plantings in the general area and nothing at all to suggest success. The height of the vineyard is about 330 metres.

The rainfall is a bit higher than the vineyards to the south east in the Cromwell Basin at about 600mm per year. To put this in context the coastal rainfall on the western side of the Southern Alps is over 5000mm per year showing how the much of a rain shadow this range creates. This is one of the defining features of the terroir of Central Otago.

Close to the lake edge vines are planted in a mix of slope wash, alluvial fans, valley alluvium and it would seem well sorted gravels created as storm wash that form on the edges of major lakes. An upper terrace is till, the unsorted accumulation of rocks, boulders, and grades down to fine rock flour which is left over after a glacier retreats. In this case it would mark the final and most recent advance of the Wanaka glacier.

A few vine rows were planted in 1974 and most of the vineyard was planted before 1981. It employed its first wine maker in 1986 before most of the Central Otago vineyards were even planted. This is a unique site and there is no room for expansion by other wineries. A near neighbour is Mount Maude which appears to be planted on outwash fans and alluvium.

The age of the Rippon and Mount Maude sediments is 24,000 years to recent.

Obviously Rippon is the vineyard to look out for and possibly the wines are lighter, tighter and a bit more savoury than those of the Cromwell Basin.

Alexandra Valley

The Alexandra Valley is about 20 kilometres south east of the Cromwell Valley and has the same north east-south west trend. This valley has existed for tens of millions of years and a variety of fresh water sediments are exposed including the Bannockburn sediments and slightly younger sandy pebble beds.

These are overlain by a complex series of glacially derived terraces, outwash fans and river sediments dating from 650,000 years. The major difference with this valley is that it does not appear to have been influenced by glacier movement; in other words no glacier has pushed down the valley.

The vineyards are clustered at the south western end of the valley with most being on outwash fans and glacial river terraces. As such the vines are planted in bedrock quite similar to that of the Cromwell Basin. Some such as Black Ridge are further south and are apparently planted in basement rocks.

Wineries of interest are Dry Gully, William Hill and Black Ridge.

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