Just a short 20km drive from Queenstown is a picturesque valley laden with grape vines…As far as the eye can see. Gibbston Valley, aptly named ‘Valley of the Vines’, produces many of the best grapes in New Zealand and has an enviable reputation built on, award winning, high quality boutique wine. A pioneering community of winemakers first started in this region in the early 1980’s. And today is the fastest growing wine region in New Zealand.
Gibbston Valley is located in Central Otago, which is the world’s most southerly wine region located at a latitude of 45 south. It’s a true continental climate with low rainfall, and intense extremes of seasonal temperatures. This unique climate, combined with the unique soil types, produces the perfect combo for ‘Pinot Noir’ grapes.
It’s late summer, sunny and hot and we’re in the world famous Gibbston Valley for the Wine and Food Festival.
We’re alongside a deep river gorge, nestled amongst rugged mountains, and ready to experience the Gibbston Valley Wine and Food Festival. As we enter the venue at Mt Rosa Winery, Gibbston Valley Queenstown a paddock of freshly mowed grass and a sea of white picnic tables and tents greet us.
Tasteful, quiet jazz plays in the background, setting the scene for the afternoon. As avid ‘Pinot Noir’ and ‘Rose’ lovers, we’re in our element. It’s a real country day out. Everyone’s here; locals, winemakers, tourists, families, celebrities and even a few friendly dogs.
It’s an annual event for Gibbston Wineries, Chefs… and this year, add one local Master Distiller.
As the Gibbston is most famous for the pinot noir grape, it feels like a pink kinda day. Our first stop is Coalpit Wines, and a taste of their delightful Pinot Rose. This was so smooth… I really love pink wine! It’s a delicate wine of floral and fruit flavours; creamy strawberry, vibrant raspberry and watermelon.
On our next stop our visual senses are stimulated by the choice of cuisine delicately prepared by ‘Chef Brendan’. We’ve chosen the delicate Salmon from the delectable selection, and the ‘Creamy’ Pinot Rose wine is the perfect accompaniment.
As your very own personal chef, Brendan will come to your home and prepare your very own personalized menu. My mouth waters wondering what he might prepare for me!
Wandering on, we gravitate to a sign standing alone in the middle of the paddock. For a fresh taste we find another N Z delicacy – ‘whitebait’. The most popular way of cooking whitebait here is in a pattie or fritter, which is essentially an omelette containing whitebait. Popular also, if it’s in plentiful supply is to pan fry the whitebait in just oil or butter, and nothing else to preserve the delicate taste.
What’s wine without Cheese? The Gibbston Valley Winery and Cheesery does it in style.
Handcrafted cheeses made from local cows, sheep and goat’s milk. Add to world class wine and freshly baked bread… now that’s heaven!
As the first Winery/Cheesery established in the Gibbston area, this complex is a great spot to while away an afternoon. There’s the Cheesery, Wine Cave, Gift shop, Wine tasting and Restaurant. All combining to make a true Gibbston Valley experience.
Our surprise of the day? Meeting the master distillers of ‘Broken Heart Gin’. Was I dreaming… I thought I was at a wine festival? No dream, this was real. Yes, local gin distillers right here in the Gibbston Valley!
Broken Heart, the name itself creates intrigue and we’re curious… so we ask Annie. She pours us a Broken Heart Gin and Tonic, garnished with a sliver of fresh orange. It’s a refreshing taste, and a pleasant change from the lemon usually associated with Gin.
Although not a regular Gin drinker I could see myself enjoying this tipple. So if you’re curious as to why it’s called Broken Heart Gin, you can check out their story here.
And as their label says
After a few more wine tastings, and more lovely food, and lots of sun…
It’s off home for a wee nap!