Food and Wine Lifestyle Wanaka Wine

Roaming Goats Inspire Central Otago Vineyard

Written by Jenny McLeod

Wild goats roaming Central Otago hills are the inspiration behind the naming of the Nanny Goat vineyard and the somewhat whimsical label has struck a chord with wine lovers both in New Zealand and Australia.

Winemaker Alan Peters-Oswald says there’s something of a legendary story of owner John Valmorbida gathering a group of friends to brainstorm a name for his proposed new wine brand back in 2004 – “they decided to walk up to the Skyline Restaurant above Queenstown, rather than take the gondola, to take in the spectacular views and gather inspiration while they came up with the right name. Unfortunately, they deviated from the trail and found themselves stranded on a rocky outcrop where one cheeky member of the group joked that they were rather like a mob of nanny goats.”

“This journey through the rough terrain was to become their motivation because they were able to draw parallels with the vines of Central Otago having to work hard to carve their own niche and survive in the harsh climate, just as the wild goats of the Central Otago region have had to adapt to live in such a tough environment – and the name Nanny Goat Vineyard was adopted.”

The winery brand was launched in 2005 originally sourcing select parcels of fruit from a handful of dedicated growers throughout Central Otago.

“John is Melbourne based and his family business centres on wine distribution in both Australia and New Zealand,” says Alan. “He developed the Nanny Goat brand because he could see early on that Central Otago was going to become a significant wine growing region and he wanted to be part of it just as he had been in Marlborough in its early years.”

Alan joined Nanny Goat as winemaker in 2010 after five years working with Cloudy Bay and is the driving force behind the brand.

“Eighteen months ago we purchased an organically certified vineyard in Queensberry which is a little known sub-region in Central Otago. While we now grow our own Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris grapes we are still supplemented by contract growers, most of whom have been with us since the early days.”

He says the Queensberry site is a special piece of land which is producing some spectacular wines.

“My philosophy is not to intervene too much in the winemaking process and let the grapes and vines speak for themselves, highlighting that sense of place and where they come from.” 

Three tiers of Pinot Noir are produced with a fourth in the planning from the Queensberry site. The Super Nanny Pinot Noir headlines each vintage, highlighting the best parcels of fruit while the Nanny Goat Pinot Noir is a regional blend made in a more approachable style. Along with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc the company produces its popular Crossbreed which is a mix of Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay grapes, fermented on skins much like a red wine, giving it a characteristic orange colour.

Alan is fully committed to Central Otago and to making first-class wines under the Nanny Goat umbrella. “I am always in search of Pinot perfection – to create that perfect expression of Pinot Noir.”

About the author

Jenny McLeod