Queenstown and Central Otago will host a unique amongst-the-vines wine festival this spring.
Queenstown wine enthusiast and event manager Bruce McGechan is organising a 12-day Down to Earth Wine Celebration from the Saturday of Labour Weekend, October 24.
Involving more than 30 winegrowers, the first annual celebration promises one-on-one time with winegrowers and interactive vineyard experiences only on offer during this time.
The idea is to give visitors and locals a chance to discover how Central Otago’s earned its global reputation for high-quality plonk.
“This is a series of events that are out in the vineyards and in the wineries and the surrounding areas
too,” McGechan says.
“This is where people don’t just go to a cellar door and taste wine, you can actually get absolutely
immersed in the wine culture in the vineyards and the wineries.”
Activities will include hand-disgorging yeast lees from Methode Traditionnelle bottles at Central Otago’s Quartz Reef winery.
McGechan: “You might be rubbing some of the buds or thinning some of the shoots, or you might just walk around the vineyards to see the general practices that they undertake and talk to the person who owns it and see why they created the vineyard in that way.”
Most events will also include some form of wine tasting.
Queenstown venues will include The Winery tasting store and Gibbston’s Peregrine and Mt Edward wineries.
McGechan says he’s aiming to attract wine lovers from the major cities of Australia and New Zealand.
The events are deliberately timed for the off-peak tourism season - “the message has been sent loud and clear that we can no longer do things in peak season, we’re too full”.
McGechan says he considered the autumn harvest season but says wineries are too busy at that time.
Wine tour operators will offer transport. “We’ll be stressing under today’s drink-driving laws that you really need a sober driver - although the driver could spit rather than drink.”
Further events will be announced but those confirmed so far are outlined on the website,