Prominent Central Otago winery Akarua is celebrating the release of its 2019 Akarua Pinot Noir marking the 20th consecutive vintage since the vineyard was established by Sir Clifford and Lady Marie Skeggs in 1996.
General manager Kathryn Pettit says the original family owned vineyard on Bannockburn’s Cairnmuir Road is situated on a prime north-west facing site and the name Akarua was selected to honour the establishment of the estate.
“Akarua represents two Maori words together meaning ‘two vines’ and chosen as homage to the original two varietals planted on our home vineyard, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.”
Akarua has gained international recognition over the years and was in the spotlight with its introduction to the Air New Zealand Wine Awards in 2004 when it became the first Central Otago winery to win the much coveted Wine of Show Trophy with its 2002 vintage.
“Since then Akarua Pinot Noir has attracted trophies and gold medals every year,” says Kathryn. “Some of the more notable awards were 2013 Romeo Bragato Champion Wine of Show, 2014 New Zealand International Wine Show Champion Pinot Noir and 2016 Six Nations Wine Challenge Red Wine of Show.”
She says it’s not just the trophy successes that have marked significant milestones for the winery and over the years the company has expanded its holdings to include an additional site at Bannockburn and four properties in the Pisa sub-region.
” This includes a 21-hetare property on the iconic Felton Road in Bannockburn and a terraced vineyard aptly named 25 Steps in the Pisa sub-region planted solely to Pinot Noir. We are also pursuing organic certification for some vineyards on top of the already certified de Bettencor vineyard in the Pisa region, home to the oldest certified organic vines in Central Otago.”
“As well as expanding the organic footprint Akarua is committed to working in an increasingly environmentally sustainable way with a goal to eliminate herbicides across the estate. We also have large projects underway to recycle 100 per cent winery water usage and compost all grape marc.”
In 2008 the first vintage of a second Akarua label, Rua Pinot Noir, was launched on the market.
“It was designed as a more approachable and early drinking style wine. The RUA label’s popularity has soared over the years due to its quality, consistency and affordability,” says Kathryn. “In addition, in 2012 Akarua launched its first range of Methode Traditionelle sparkling wines under the expert guidance of the late Dr Tony Jordan, produced from the original two varietals, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, planted in Bannockburn. The cool Central Otago climate is perfect for the Methode Traditionelle production and has become a firm favourite both in New Zealand and internationally.”