The Vineyard that Gandalf Built

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When you’ve got a lake, picture perfect scenery, and the world’s southern-most grown grapes, you’ve got a recipe for success.

Now, the last time you were near a mountain may have been for the ski season. I, personally, don’t have mountains come to mind first when I think of grapes being grown. Instead, I’m reminded of why I’ve never gone skiing again.

Now, I don’t blame you for not knowing what the term ‘continental climate’ means – it’s a school day for me as well. However, I do deserve more marks against me because of I kind of live in one – you’d think I’d be able to be somewhat educated about my surrounding environment.

Down under (beyond the real ‘down under’ – Australia) is a mountainous climate that has a few winemaking secrets up its sleeve. You’ll hopefully at least know that climate plays a significant role in how grapes are grown, which is why Rippon Vineyard is so unique and fascinating.

The South Island of New Zealand has some interesting weather pass through it (this is where I feign knowledge and understanding). Central Otago proudly shows off the fact that it has a true continental climate. This means that some parts of the year are unbearably scorching hot, and then other times are freakishly cold.

In a nutshell, a continental climate is an environment that gives you the best of both worlds, depending on what time of the year it is. While the change may upset you, it doesn’t bother the grapes. In fact, this type of terrain is extremely fertile when it comes to winemaking.

You can see why Rippon has found their home here. Maybe they first came here because they were greedy for the sight-seeing – or they wanted to improve on their ski skills. Or perhaps they arrived in the southern-most viticultural capital in the world because they knew there was wine – and money – to be made.

Honestly, it’s pretty hard to beat sitting in front of the kind of picturesque lake that beggar’s belief while sipping on some of New Zealand’s best wine. I mean, surely tasting wine is a sport by now, right?

If you’re someone who wishes all the snow in the world would melt and the long, sunny days would stick around instead, then you’re in luck. Longer days of sun is one of the perks of having a continental climate – and the grapes don’t mind it too much, either.

Rippon Vineyard Wine

Rippon Mature Vine Riesling 2017: you can thank the hard-working sun for the flesh put into this wine. The root hairs of this vine have connected with the rocks below – and you know what that means. It’s a mature vine, and some of the best Rieslings have come from mature vines (respect your elders).

You’ll feel almost dizzy from the headiness in this wine – but it’s not a bad thing. There’s power in a mature Riesling.

Emma’s Block Mature Vine Pinot Noir: because we just can’t get enough of the old mature vines, let’s showcase another. Emma’s block faces in an easterly direction on the lakefront. This runs ancient clay reefs together with schist gravels.

Words to describe this Pinot Noir 2017: fine, sleek, detailed, with animated femininity (interpret as you will).

Rippon Sauvignon Blanc 2017: fermenting in French Oak had a significant role to play in the production of this wine. Don’t be fooled, however – it wasn’t for the oak but for the form of the barrel itself.

High lees take charge of the mouthfeel that goes well with the unhurried wild ferments.

If you have enough glasses of Rippon Vineyard’s outstanding wine, you may just be able to spot Gandalf walking around the mountain that sits guarding Lake Wanaka closely.

Whatever time of year it is, there’s magic in the air. There’s also magic in the water, too – which is why you don’t want to miss out on Rippon Vineyard wine.

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