Many Central Otago wine maps will include the Waitaki wine region with the rest of Otago, but we feel that it needs its own separate category. Although vineyard plantings here remain relatively small, it could be an opportunity for growth for wineries in the future.
One key difference compared to Central Otago is the Waitaki Valley’s proximity to the East Coast of the South Island, the maritime climate balances out some of the temperature extremes felt further inland. Another important distinguishing feature is the geology of the soil; limestone is very prevalent here. Pinot Noir and limestone soils go very well together; it’s understood that the higher pH limestone soils benefit Pinot Noir vines by increasing nutrient uptake into the roots. In the wider wine world, the great limestone soils that make up the Premier and Grand Crus in the Cote de Nuits of Burgundy are hallowed and respected.
It’s clear that the wines in Waitaki are different from the wider region; more restrained, finer tuned, edgier and more rustic flavours than your usual Central Otago Pinot Noir.