Saturday was a beautiful day for the Otago Wine Tour with Appellation Central Wine Tours. I did not sleep well Friday night. There is a dance club in the alley behind the hostel, not the club I was at, that I could hear the bass of the music until they stopped at 2am. Richard, our driver for the tour, picked me up at noon. The mini bus is similar to the ones in Sydney but there was a little less room to transfer from the floor to the seat. We made a few more stops for a total of 10 people on the tour. One group was from Ohio State Alumni on a 2 week trip to New Zealand and Australia. They are very nice people but that still does not change the way I feel about OSU. Our first stop was at Peregrine Vineyards where our presenter was Roz. They name all the wines they make after birds. We tasted 5 wines at Peregrine. The best wine here was the Saddleback Pinot Nior. There is a small amount of gravel to go through to get to the ramp down to the tasting room. The ramp is not too steep and had no issues going down or up. The tasting room was nice with a view of the wine barrels aging. There is an accessible bathroom on the same floor as the tasting room.
Next we head to Bannockburn to Carrick Vineyards and lunch. Carrick Vineyards was the first all organic vineyard in the Otago region. Now all the vineyards are organic. There was tightly packed gravel to wheel through to get to the entrance, not an issue. The tasting room and outside lunch area were both on the ground level. They have an accessible bathroom on the same level. We tasted 6 wines at Carrick. The wine presentation was very quick. Lunch was community style with plates of bread, cheese, salmon, mussels, stuffed peppers and salami. We had the option to purchase a glass of wine with lunch from the wines we tasted, which I did. The best I had from the tasting was the Chardonnay EBM which spends 1-1/2 years in the barrel.
After lunch we visit two very small vineyards that only produce about 3000 bottles a year. Most big wine makers can produce that in 24 hours. We did the first tasting with Jenny at Domain Road Vineyard outside under the walnut tree with a great view of the vineyard. There is one 5″ step to get up to the tasting room and bathroom. We tasted 5 wines at Domain Road. My favorite here was the Paradise Pinot Noir 2009. They only make 300 bottles of this a year, so we were very lucky to get a taste.
Our final stop was at Mt. Rosa Vineyard which was by far the worst to get to the tasting room. Up a steep gravel hill about 75 feet long. I needed help up by two people, Richard and Bill, one of nice OSU people. There was also a 5″ step to get to the deck. Once up on the deck, the tasting room and bathroom where on the same level. Jeremy, the presenter and co-owner, was the best presenter of the day. We tried 5 wines including a very sweet, not to my liking desert wine. The best I had here was the Pinot Nior. I went down the hill backwards through the grass which was much easier, still with the help from Richard and Bill.
The Otago region makes about 65% Pinot Nior from all the wines it produces. I return around 5:15pm and went shopping for a light long sleeve shirt for Sunday. After finding a shirt I ate at a restaurant called The Cow, not what you think. It’s a pizza and spaghetti restaurant. It was accessible right down from Tardis, the seen from Thursday. The pizza was very good and late at night when busy you share tables with other people. I was there early enough not to share. The bathroom is on the ground level but not accessible. I had a few Guinness at Pog Mahone’s and headed home early for a long day at Milford Sound Sunday.