Within an hour of arriving in New Zealand to start my two months at Felton Road I was on the gate at the Gibbston Valley Harvest Festival helping to collect tickets and park cars. Well over 2,000 people showed up to the event which was held on a beautiful sunny day in Central Otago.
Gibbston Valley is where the pioneers of Central Otago first planted vines - Chard Farm, Valli, Gibbston Valley and Peregrine were all there. Pinot was first planted here in the late 80's but the region hasn't grown to the extent that the region around Bannockburn (where Felton Road is), which now has 70% of the Central Otago plantings.
The Pinots were variable in quality, in my opinion. Rockburn and Valli had made some cracker jack Pinots in 2006 but there were others that had obvious vegetal characters. Gibbston is a marginal area for Pinot being cooler than Bannockburn and they can struggle to get ripe flavors in many vintages. When the season is warm enough the super long hang time can often mean killer Pinot but in other vintages you can be left with fruit on the vine that have not reached flavor maturity while leaves have started senescing (with no more photosynthesis, there will be no more fruit development).
A great introduction to the region. Tomorrow we start bottling the 2007 vintage at the winery, and will try and get some photos up!