Two years ago I was invited to a conference of sorts, E’Esensual Pinot Noir.
It’s organised by Central Otago Pinot Noir Ltd, our local wine industries’ co-operative marketing entity.
A group of 20 sommeliers, writers and wine buyers are invited from around the globe for four fantastic days of education and entertainment. It’s about expressing what Central Otago pinot noir is all about; the land, the people and the uniqueness.
For this year’s E’Sensual I was on the other side, as a representative for my new employer, Northburn Wines. I was dispatched to Alexandra, Cromwell, Naseby and Wanaka to meet with the delegates, a wonderful bunch of wine savvy professionals from as far afield as Sweden. They are whisked around the region, tasting, eating and discussing the merits of our sub-regions and the resulting wines.
The benefits of hosting an event like this are the overall reach the region is able to achieve through a small number of people.
These are the gatekeepers and the future decision makers and it’s important that they understand Central Otago from an insider’s point of view.
I warned the delegates that stamina is required not just for drinking but eating also.
A typical day starts with an 8am pick-up after breakfast, a sub-regional tour and tasting by 10am, lunch at a vineyard with wine, follow by a second tasting in a different sub-region.
Then it’s back on the bus for a quick wash and off to dinner for more eating, drinking and socialising with winery owners and staff.
The first couple of evenings are fairly tame but Saturday and Sunday livens up and local winemakers get to show off their dance moves.
Delegates leave with full stomachs, sore livers and pinot stained teeth but more importantly, with a sense of where our wines come from and who puts them together.
The people of Central Otago wine really make the difference.
Of course buyers will make their own minds up with regards of the wines they prefer and what they will buy, but it’s up to individual suppliers to shake hands, share a story and make an impression with the time available.
Delegate Hugo Cheng from Icon Hotels, Hong Kong, told me: “E’Sensual is the warmest, most welcoming and well organised wine event I’ve been invited to.”
Central Otago’s place in the world of wine is assured with more events like this.
Paul Tudgay is the Queenstown Resort College business hospitality manager and a wine appreciation lecturer