Saturday was a beautiful day for the Otago Wine Tour with Appellation Central Wine Tours. Richard was our driver for the tour. The mini bus was a little difficult to transfer from my wheelchair to the floor then to my seat. There was less room to transfer from the floor to the seat. Richard took the wheels off my wheelchair and placed the chair in the back of the bus. There were a total of 10 people on the tour. 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 concrete ramp down to the tasting room. The concrete ramp is not too steep and I had no issues going down or up. Paving a larger portion of the parking area would be recommended to eliminate having to wheel through gravel. 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 a 5″ step to get up to the inside 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, to get up the hill. There was also a 5″ step to get up on 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 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. Paving a walkway up the hill is recommended but not economical for a small vineyard. The number of wheelchair users that visit on tours is small.
The Appellation Central Wine Tour was very good. Richard was very informative during the tour and more than willing to help me out. I did the Boutique Wine Tour which was 5hr 15min long. They also offer a Gourmet Wine Tour that’s about 7 hours. If you are able to transfer yourself from your wheelchair to the floor of the mini bus then to the seat you will be able to do this tour. The only time I needed help was going up the gravel hill and down the hill at Mt. Rosa Vineyard. I don’t think anyone in a manual wheelchair would be able to wheel up or down without help. I would recommend Appellation Central Wine Tour to any able body person or wheelchair user. Accessibility wise this tour would receive a 3/5 rating.