7 Reasons to visit Gibbston Valley during harvest
Visit Gibbston Valley Winery any day of the year, and you'll get an authentic winery experience that goes far beyond just tasting wine.
With the winemaking team always on the go and their rich history as Central Otago’s founding winery, there’s never a shortage of upcoming events, new wine releases and the ever-adorable antics of the winery dogs to fill the daily roster.
Yet, there’s a certain season when things really come alive at Gibbston Valley – harvest.
Beginning in mid-March when the vines ripen with succulent fruit through to the end of May when the next vintage is being moved into barrel, the winery is operating at full throttle.
The constant bustle from the winemaking team creates an electrifying energy that you can literally smell in the air, just take a whiff of the heady fermentation aromas floating around.
It's an exciting time of year, and Gibbston Valley invites everyone to stop by for a visit and be a part of it.
Here are 7 more reasons to visit Gibbston Valley Winery during harvest:
1. Experience the beautiful Central Otago countryside in fall: Harvest also means autumn has arrived in Central Otago, and there’s nothing like seeing the region’s oldest vines transition from vibrant green to rich shades of gold.
2. Get a glimpse of the personalities behind the wine: From the loud, upbeat music playing from the winemaking facilities to seeing head winemaker Christopher Keys take his daily break to indulge in his other passion, playing cricket with the winery dogs, visitors can experience some of the other aspects of winemaking at Gibbston Valley.
3. Up your knowledge on Pinot punch downs: No this isn’t our version of boxing. Punch downs are part of the fermentation process.
Once Pinot Noir is sitting in the fermenters, carbon dioxide sends the skins and stems to the top of the mixture, but those contain goodness that we want to extract. Punch downs are done to submerge those elements and mix them in with the rest of the juice.
4. See and taste the grapes that go in your glass: We all know wine comes from grapes, but being able to see batches of freshly-picked Pinot Noir or Chardonnay grapes arrive at the winery, will give you a new perspective on your next glass of wine.
If you're lucky, you might even get to taste the grapes before the enter the next phase of the winemaking process.
5. Learn what fermentation smells like: As we mentioned earlier, the distinct aroma of fermenting alcohol is adjective-defying. It’s a powerful yet pleasant aroma that visitors can get a hearty does of during harvest when the fermenters are in action.
6. Be a part of vintage history: The 2012 vintage was incredibly well-received, garnering praise from the likes of the internationally known Decanter wine magazine as well as earning various other accolades, including a Pure Gold for two Gibbston Valley Pinot Noirs in the 2013 Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
Only time will tell what's ahead for the 2014 vintage, but by stopping by during harvest you can say you saw more Gibbston Valley vintage history in the making.
7. Watch Pinot pioneers in action: Before Gibbston Valley Winery founder Alan Brady took a chance on the unknown, Central Otago was notable for anything but wine. He planted the region's first commercial vines and released Central Otago's first commercial vintage in 1987. In about 30 years, he took Central Otago from Zero to Hero as a world-renowned wine producing region.
Today, Brady's pioneering spirit continues to thrive at Gibbston Valley, and there's no better time to experience it than during harvest.