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The Pinot Junction Journey

The first stage of Pinot Junction, a standout new wine experience in the Old Cromwell Heritage Precinct has launched and is encouraging people to explore a taste of Central Otago. 

Kate and Matt Barnett are behind the venture and excited to share their passion and knowledge of the #pinotcentral wine industry.

“We love Central Otago, and we love it’s wines,” says Kate. “Our vision has been to create a relaxed, informative, neutral space where visitors can get an overview of our beautiful wine growing region, sample Central Otago’s finest and discover more about the local wine industry, climate and history.”

The Barnett’s have been planning the venture for the past 12 months negotiating with local authorities to refurbish the original McNulty Shed in the upper precinct of Old Cromwell.

However, just a few months ago the opportunity arose to buy Armando’s Kitchen restaurant in the historic Murrell’s Cottage. 

“It was a serendipitous moment that allowed us to fast track our plans to open for summer while continuing to work on the original plans to renovate the shed,” says Kate. “We are delighted to now be open and have added an extensive selection of Central Otago’s best wines into the restaurant that has stunning views over Lake Dunstan.”

“Our goal is for people to experience a variety of labels with side-by-side tastings that truly represent Central Otago’s world-class, award-winning wines in one easy central location. We plan to incorporate two enomatic wine tasting machines into the operation and currently offer a delicious menu that includes pizzas, pastas, antipasto and cheese platters.”

Kate Barnett

Viticulture Gateway

Pinot Junction is both a nod to Cromwell’s original name, The Junction, and the town’s reputation as the epicentre of award-winning local wine growing sub-regions. 

“Cromwell is one of the first stops in the visitor experience and a gateway to wineries and cellar doors in the region,” says owner Kate Barnett. “Our logo represents the six sub-regions of Alexandra, Bannockburn, Bendigo, Cromwell, Gibbston and Wānaka with the colour of the dots representing a special aspect or the terroir of that area”

Central Otago wine and its pioneering history have been an integral part of Kate’s life. Her father Stewart Elms established Felton Road Wines in 1992 and her career is steeped in the local industry with positions at Mt Difficulty Wines and more recently Domaine Thomson Wines where she spearheaded the establishment of its state-of-the art cellar door.

 Matt Barnett’s background is in media and retail with Dunedin’s Arthur Barnett’s department store his family legacy. He currently manages The Cromwell Bulletin and the couple have made their home in Lowburn with their children Ben (17) Charlie (15) and Annie (13). 

“We are dedicated to curating an elevated wine experience where people can enjoy the quality and variety of wines available. Our wine industry has come of age and our business reflects this new era highlighting our world class products firsthand,” says Kate.

With the Cromwell basin experiencing unprecedented growth Kate says their wider business model, that incorporates the historic McNulty Shed into Pinot Junction’s footprint, will cater to an increased numbers of visitors and newcomers as the area continues to flourish.

 “This project has received unanimous positive support from the Cromwell Community Board and others and our plans for the shed conversion are well underway. We are working with local architect Jess Sutherland to create a modern and contemporary space within the original building, which will enable us to host large events such as winemaker evenings and functions, alongside an elegant and comfortable wine bar and courtyard.”