Otago, or ‘Central’ as locals call it, is a sub-region in the south of the South Island of New Zealand renowned for its lakes, mountains and Pinot Noir (see Otago Pinot Noir). Otago’s main town is Queenstown

Sub-regionsAlexandra. | Bannockburn. | Bendigo. | Cromwell-Lowburn-Pisa. | Gibbston. | Wanaka.

TerroirRobin Dicey told me in 2015 that ‘it all comes down to climate. A desert starts with 10 inches of rain, we only get 12 inches which makes Otago a semi-desert and as close as you can get to a semi-continental climate. Our soils are very, very fragile. Mineral-wise we have a decent sort of a balance. The soil pH is very high as a result of the very low rainfall. Our soil pH is between 7.45 and 8 but this is not because we are on a limestone here, but because we get virtually no leaching. In terms of nutrient deficiencies the only element we are lacking is sulfur but this is offset by sulfur sprays. In terms of micro-biological elements we are very low in Cation Exchange Capacity (CET), very low in organic matter, very low in humus. We get good adhesion from the CEC point of view but we do not get much microbial activity because our soils are just too dry and bony. The flood of 1878 brought sand and loess.’

Organics2007 In 2007, Central Otago Winegrowers Association members gave a clear directive to move towards a collective approach to adopting organic practices. The move was helped by funding received from Organics Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ) to design and implement a pilot programme for Central Otago to support winegrowers to transition towards becoming organic. | 2019 In 2019 the Central Otago Winegrowers Association (COWA) said that 17% (320ha) of vineyard land in the region was fully certified in organic/biodynamic production, and 6% (115ha) of the region was in the official three-year organic conversion process. This meant 23% of the region’s vineyard land area was being farmed under certified organic or biodynamic practices. VineWise is a locally-based vineyard consultancy service focused on organics and Biodynamics.


Certified BiodynamicFelton Road. | Quartz Reef.

Certified organic: Aurum Wines. |  Northburn Station. | Pisa Terrace Vineyard. | Sato Wines. | TOSQ.

No certificationGypsy Dancer. | Wild Earth Wines. | Wooing Tree.