Getting Down to Earth: Centre of the Central Otago Wine World
With over 60% of Otago’s vineyards found in the Cromwell Basin, Cromwell can legitimately claim to be the centre of the Central Otago wine world and producer of award-winning wines. With this in mind, wine industry leaders from Queenstown, Alexandra, Wanaka and Cromwell came together to create the “Down to Earth Wine Celebration”, to showcase the entire vine growing region.
The 2015 inaugural event is running over ten days from the 24th of October to the 4th of November and includes a top shelf line-up of wineries, vineyards and restaurants. As a general rule, wine connoisseurs are known to have a thirst for knowledge, yet few get beyond the cellar door. The Down to Earth events were designed with the endgame of people getting as hands-on as possible and allowing the general public to gain a “hands in the dirt” understanding of what it takes to create their favourite drop of vino.
Some of the highlights so far have been vertical wine tasting tours, five-course degustation meals accompanied by jazz and a food and wine matching evening with Cameron Douglas: New Zealand’s only Master Sommelier. If you are interested, over the next week you could choose to get ‘Down and Dirty’ at Felton Road or ‘Earn your lunch’ at Misha’s Vineyard. There are also tastings and educational events at Akarua, Carrick Winery, Pisa Range Estate, Mt Difficulty, Aurum Winery, Ceres Winery, Quartz Reef, Remarkable Wines and Wild Earth.
For the uninitiated, a vertical wine tasting tour does not mean you will be scaling the side of a metal tank while sipping wine. Instead, you will sample the same style of wine from a number of different vintages, and yes, there is a certain snob value associated with sipping on a 2010 Pinot Noir that you simply can’t buy.
If wine isn’t really your thing, you could combine your world of wine experience with a helicopter ride over the vines or view art in a viticultural setting. There are even professionally guided wine tours that will allow you to gain a different perspective of Central Otago beyond the adrenaline rush of adventure tourism.
To discover why Lonely Planet named Central Otago wine and the viticulturists that produce it some of the best in the world, book your tickets to the next Down to Earth event www.downtoearthwinecelebration.co.nz.