We grow Riesling. We craft Riesling. We love Riesling. A lot.
The only winery in New Zealand dedicated solely to Riesling.
Its no secret. Its all around us.
Here, in Central Otago, there is a special dynamism a tangible synergy between Riesling and this place. The schist rock, the hot days, the cool nights, the arid climate, the mountain and valley landscape. And no other grape variety has the ability to express site so authentically and candidly. The small satellite sub-regions of Central Otago tell us, very plainly and very simply, who they are through the medium of Riesling.
Located in the fruitlands area of Alexandra off Earnscleugh Road, the vineyard was planted in 2000 and sits atop a terrace above the Clutha River. Organic practices are employed, with the Riesling block located on even terrain, promoting consistent ripeness with minimal variability. This vineyard is the first to ripen, thankfully, lest the autumn frosts have their way with the fruit.
Perched on a high altitude foothill of the Cairnmuir Ranges, this small block of Bannockburn Riesling was terraced due to the slope and aspect. Established in 1998, the block is quite protected, nestled in a heat trap of sorts, planted on sandy loam soils characteristic of the region. Perhaps the most picturesque vineyard, overlooking Lake Dunstan with the Pisa Ranges in the background.
Adjacent to the Bendigo gold mines, this modest block of Riesling was planted in 2002 and rests on the slope of a north-eastern terrace riser. Soils are very bony, with low fertility and water-holding capacity. The site is essentially frost-free and looks out to the glorious St Bathans Range in the distance.
Tucked in behind the rolling hills of Lowburn lies an isolated, very small family vineyard established in 1993. Susceptible to the katabatic wind flows off the Pisa Ranges as we found out when harvesting our inaugural vintage! this tiny Riesling block is positioned on a north-facing, moderate slope on slightly heavier soils.
Nestled atop a gently rolling slope in a north-western facing amphitheatre, the Riesling vines on Northburn were planted in 1999 and are managed organically. The site looks across the lake to Lowburn and the dramatic Pisa Ranges, protected somewhat by the southerly but susceptible to the nor-west winds that come roaring down the lake. The soils are a mixture of sand, loess and gravels very free draining and the site is often one of the first to be picked.
Situated at the very top of Mt Pisa Road, this is Auburn's highest altitude vineyard, and one of the highest altitude vineyards in the region, peaking out at over 400m. With a complete panorama over the Cromwell Basin, this young vineyard (planted in 2007) boasts a spectacular outlook, transcending into the fruit itself. North facing, gently sloping, with a mixture of loess/alluvial soils, the altitude aids slower ripening and accumulation of flavours not necessarily matched by comparative rises in sugar. An exciting block, on the limits of viticulture, in the world's most southern winegrowing region.
In 2008, three friends three Riesling fanatics came together and established Auburn Wines. Aside from a common thread of love, appreciation and devotion to Riesling, the winegrower ethos was unanimous and uncompromising; to focus on Riesling, and Riesling only, in small volumes off unique sites from the sub-regions of Central Otago.
Riesling has the uncanny ability to coax individuality and unique expression from its chosen site, whether it be heavier clay soils, wind-blown loess or weathered schist gravels. Coupled with a climate of warm days and cool nights with the lowest rainfall in New Zealand, Riesling has found a home in Central Otago.
The viticulture is intensive, with all work carried out by hand and every bunch meticulously inspected and selected. The decision to harvest is based on taste and flavours, with an eye on the weather and the numbers. Winemaking is hands off, allowing the fruit to follow its own path with ferments stopped once the right balance is achieved. Production is intentionally kept very limited, allowing for greater attention and focus on smaller lots that carry with them a stamp of integrity, quality and identity.