Wine connoisseurs will raise their glasses in Queenstown today to toast the 25th anniversary of pinot noir in the region.
The ninth Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration takes place in the resort all weekend.
It has attracted 160 delegates from around the world – including renowned wine masters, journalists and industry leaders.
They will taste the best wines from 35 local participating wineries.
Olssen Winery’s Jen Parr, the pinot celebration chairman, says: “The industry in the region is celebrating the 25th year since the first commercial bottling of pinot noir.
“It is a time to come together, talk about pinot noir, current trends and the future.
“But it is also a celebration of how far we’ve come in those 25 years. It is encouraging that a lot of those wineries that participated in the original event in 2002 are still around and there are new ones as well.”
The three-day programme – one of New Zealand’s premier wine events – sees delegates attend tastings, master classes, parties, lunches and a grand dinner and charity auction.
“One of the most exciting parts is Friday morning, when the delegates take a bus through the wine region up to the gorge and out to Northburn Station,” Parr says.
“They will taste two wines from each of the 35 participating wineries. It is quite unique – to be able to taste young and older wines from the region’s premium producers in the same room in the same session.”
VIPs from China, the US, UK and elsewhere are due to attend.
Saturday’s grand dinner at the Skyline Restaurant up the gondola will conclude with a charitable auction of a special cuvee of Central Otago pinot noir. A similar auction raised $40,000 last time.