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Quartz Reef Comes of Age

Almost 30 years ago prominent winemaker Rudi Bauer approached the owners of Bendigo Station, Heather and John Perriam, with a plan to plant grapes on their Central Otago property. Today the Quartz Reef winery is the Bendigo flagship and celebrating 21 years since the vineyard was planted.

Back in 1991 there were no vineyards in the Cromwell basin and the Perriams were initially sceptical of the idea. However, they agreed to back Rudi and Quartz Reef, taking its name from New Zealand’s largest quartz reef deposit that lies beneath the vineyard, was founded.

It took time, between locating the site and conducting the necessary soil, water and climate tests until the first vines were planted in 1998, but Rudi’s faith in the venture never wavered.

“It was my belief that it could happen and there is no doubt that the site is much better than we ever expected. While it is still a young area and you cannot expect too much after just 21 years , compared to the old world where they have been growing grapes for 2000 years, what has been achieved in such a short time is highly commendable. Due to our success at Bendigo others have also been attracted to grow grapes successfully there and a quarter of the production of wine from Central Otago comes from Bendigo vineyards.”

John Perriam recalls the state of the land when Rudi proposed converting it into a vineyard.

“I tried to give all the land to the Department of Conservation during the free holding process as it was a vast dry desolate rabbit infested liability. They didn’t want it, but Rudi could see the future for it and we are very proud of Quartz Reef and the wine they produce today.”

A highlight for the Quartz Reef team has been their ability to consistently produce, from the first vintage, high quality, world standard wines.

“Ultimately the real success lies within the land. Our job is to make sure we have a good relationship with the land to get the best possible example of Pinot Noir. There is still more to achieve in capturing the true essence of the land and that comes with time,” he says. “The grapevine is now 21-years-old and coming into its own as it forms a relationship with the soil and I think that in the next 15 years we will get more precise and more distinctive wines coming out of Quartz Reef.”

As a pioneer of the Central Otago wine industry Rudi is very proud to be part of the region’s success, particularly as a Pinot Noir producer.

“We have changed the landscape in Central Otago and wine tourism has become significant. The region’s wines are very individual and very distinctive and I am excited about the industry’s development.”

Twenty-one-years on, both Bendigo and Quartz Reef are celebrating an important milestone.

“I refer particularly to the role the Perriams played in making Quartz Reef happen,” says Rudi. “They took the risk on me while I took the risk with the land and history has shown that Bendigo is a wonderful winegrowing location.”

For the Perriams and Bendigo it has also been a significant journey.

“Rudi and Quartz Reef have been a flagship for the transformation of the Bendigo terraces into what is regarded today as a Central Otago and New Zealand leader in the production of high-quality Pinot Noir fruit,” says John.