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OUR HISTORY

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OUR HISTORY

The difference between fool and visionary can be a fine line.

Inspired by his passion for winemaking, Gibbston Valley Winery founder, Alan Brady, planted his first vines in Gibbston in the early 1980s. At 45 degrees south of the equator, his vines were right on the knife-edge of possibility for grape cultivation. Everyone thought that it was too cold for grapes here, but Brady had a hunch, and he was right.

After his initial plantings, Alan realised the trials and tribulations of being a winemaker. He learned that certain varieties thrived in the region’s cool, continental climate.

Alan planted Gibbston Valley's first commercial vineyard, Home Block, in 1983 and released Central Otago’s first commercial vintage in 1987. The wine gained considerable recognition, creating Central Otago's first footprint in the world of winemaking. Soon others followed. 

Today, Central Otago is regarded as one of the top three regions in the world for Pinot Noir along with Burgundy in France and Oregon in the USA. Central Otago is also known for producing outstanding world-class wines from other cold-climate varieties including Pinot Gris, Riesling and Chardonnay.

In 1990, Alan established Gibbston Valley Wines as a new boutique winery that featured a tasting room and gourmet lunch restaurant. Today, the restaurant is recognised as one of the top places to eat in Queenstown.

By 1995, storage space for the numerous oak barrels used to mature wine was becoming a problem. The barrels require a very controlled environment with constant temperature and humidity.

The obvious choice was to build a barrel storage facility, but Alan had something different in mind. He decided to blast a 1400 cubic metre cave into the schist mountain which provides the backdrop for the winery. This was the first in the region and continues to be the largest Wine Cave in New Zealand.

While a popular attraction for tourists and locals in Queenstown, the cave is an important part of the winery. It provides the perfect environment for aging barrels of wine without requiring any artificial temperature or humidity control.

The cave is home to more than 400 barrels of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that line its rocky schist wall interior. It’s also a fantastic place for visitors to taste and experience our wines on one of our Cave and Winery Tours.

Over the years we’ve continued to be innovators in our industry. In 2001, we became one of the first members of the New Zealand Wine Seal Initiative, a small group of winemakers who chose to drop the cork in favour of a screw-cap seal for their wines.

Despite being told that this was a risky move and that the public wouldn’t accept top-quality wines in a screw-cap bottle, we decided to make this transition because of the many benefits of using screw-caps. The public agreed with us, and today the majority of winemakers in New Zealand use screw-caps to seal their wine.

Also in 2001, our 2000 Gibbston Valley Reserve Pinot Noir won the Gold Medal Trophy for Pinot Noir/Burgundy at the London International Wine Challenge. This is a huge achievement making us the first ever non-French wine to win this award. The 2000 Reserve also went on to win the Gold Medal Trophy at the Sydney International Wine Competition and the Japan International Wine Challenge.

In 2011, we decided to shake things up again, this time to the tune of mega classic rock hits with the launch of our new Summer Concert Series presented in partnership with Greenstone Entertainment.

The concerts offered a way for people to experience legendary classic rock acts with our beautiful New Zealand countryside as the backdrop. The first concert tour featured classic rock headliners Creedence Clearwater Revival and Doctor Hook and included three shows at outdoor venues in Taupo, Matakana and our concert site located next to the winery.

After a highly-successful first year, the concert series continued with Doobie Brothers and Little River Band in 2012 and Pat Benatar and American in 2013. The 2014 concert series featured Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd, Starship featuring Mickey Thomas and British rock group 10cc. Each year the series grows, attracting more fans from New Zealand and around the world. The Gibbston Valley Winery Summer Concert is Queenstown’s largest annual music event.

In 2013, we opened an artisan café and tasting room in historic Arrowtown, A Taste of Gibbston Valley. Located on Arrowtown’s main street, A Taste of Gibbston Valley features a gourmet wine and food experience focused on using the freshest local and organic ingredients when available.

A Taste of Gibbston Valley is the only tasting room in Arrowtown, giving both locals and visitors a chance to taste some of the region’s best wines in a casual café setting.

In 2014, our original Home Block vineyard was certified organic by BioGro New Zealand. Our 2014 vintage single vineyard releases are our first to be certified organic. We are in the process of converting some of our other vineyards to being organic including our School House and China Terrace vineyards.

More than 30 years after our first vines were planted, we're still inspired by the unique environment that we call home and sharing that with others. With our restaurant, wine cave and adjacent Gibbston Valley Cheesery on site, we’ve become a worldwide travel destination and the most-visited winery in New Zealand.

We continue to add to the experiences that locals and visits can enjoy at Gibbston Valley. We recently added a biking hub on-site where people can rent bikes and helmets and have direct access to some of the best trails in Queenstown, located next to the winery.

We're always growing, but we’ve stayed close to our roots and continue to operate as a boutique winery focused on handcrafting premium and thrilling representations of Central Otago-style varietals.

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alanbrady earlycelebration
Alan Brady celebrating an early vintage with other local winemakers.
gibbstonvalley-caveconstruction.jpg
The team behind our wine cave construction in 1995.
diggingthecave
The first cut in digging out our wine cave.
gibbstonvalley wineryconstruction
Our winery in the making in 1989.
gibbstonvalley alanbarrels
Our founder doing a barrel tasting in what has now been converted to office space at the winery.
brady firsthomestead
Our founder building the original homestead at the winery.
alanbrady earlyharvest
In the early days, harvesting with Alan Brady was always a family affair.
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Our first vintage. These iconic labels were used as the design for our Dusty Bottle t-shirts.