Vintage 2016 is underway
It’s that time of year again. Fruit, forklift, process, repeat. The harvest to vintage season has officially started at Gibbston Valley Winery. Excitement is in the air as our winemakers start handcrafting vintage 2016. If you're looking for a unique and authentic winery experience in Queenstown, this is the place to be.
During this time of year, the winery is operating at full throttle. With our vineyards located in both the Bendigo and Gibbston subregions of Central Otago, we have different varietals of fruit arriving almost daily. This will last until about mid-May or whenever Mother Nature dictates.
Our 2016 harvest kicked off the second week of March with the first pick of Chardonnay grapes from our China Terrace vineyard in Bendigo. After handpicking, the process goes something like this:
- Crates of fruit arrive at the winery.
- One of our winemakers/expert forklift drivers transports the crates of incoming fruit to our new winemaking facility. (Yes, we have a new winemaking facility, but we’ll get to that later.)
- The fruit is processed under the direction of our winemaking team and according to varietal.
For our white wines including Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc, the fruit is tipped into the press and juice is gently extracted and drained to either barrel or stainless steel barriques for fermentation.
For our Pinot Noirs, this could mean sending whole bunches of grapes straight into our open-top fermenters or putting them first into the destemmer before the fermentation process starts and the juice is moved to barrel. We leave the details up to our winemakers.
Well, that’s simplifying it down to three easy steps. Obviously, a lot more goes into creating some of the best Pinot Noir in the world.
To add to the excitement, 2016 marks our first vintage operating in our new wine facility.
“It has been a real pleasure to move to a facility designed for wine production – leaving the pioneering area the winery inhabited since the ’80s. We are tremendously happy about that,” said Gibbston Valley Chief Winemaker Christopher Keys.
The new facility is still located at the winery but on the opposite side of the complex closest to Queenstown. This change is a big change for us. Through the work of winery founder Alan Brady, Gibbston Valley released Central Otago's first commercial vintage in 1987 and has continued to produce award-winning varietals handcrafted at that same site, until now.
"[It's] not in time to stop my hair turning grey - but a real advance nonetheless," joked Keys.
Stop by for a visit through the end of May, and you can see more winemaking history in the making. Until then, take a look at our gallery for a glimpse of what our organic Home Block vineyard and winemakers have been up to so far.