central otago, new zealand
Established in 1992, Mt Difficulty Wines is home to some of Central Otago’s oldest and most revered vineyards. Situated along Felton Road in the famous sub-region of Bannockburn, Central Otago, this unique area of extremes is ideally suited to crafting wines that speak with a sense of place. “Our philosophy combines ethical viticulture with minimal intervention allowing the wine to express its personality and reflect its home”
Today, Mt Difficulty Estate is comprised of six vineyards: Templar Hill, Pipeclay Terrace, Menzies Terrace, Mansons Farm, Target Gully and Long Gully – total plantings of 40 hectares protected by the rain shadow of Mount Difficulty in Bannockburn, Central Otago. This region provides New Zealand’s only ‘continental’ style climate combined with unique soils ideally suited for growing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris.
Matt (aka Le Grand Fromage) has a lifelong association with the wine industry, and is a fourth generation vigneron. After achieving a Masters Degree in Oenology and Viticulture Matt spent four years gaining experience overseas. He returned to Bannockburn in 1998 to try his hand at the ultimate winemaking challenge – making the best wines possible in a region with infinite potential. Matt’s winter passion is skiing with his family, while summers bring jet boating and mountain biking “adventures”.
All wines that carry the Mt Difficulty Bannockburn Estate label are subject to two strict criteria: they have to be sourced from vineyards situated in a very specific area – Bannockburn, south of the Kawarau River – and they are to be under the umbrella of the Mt Difficulty management team. The reasons for these self-imposed constraints are that we believe this to be an area with very special qualities for growing grapes, and that the management of the vineyard is reflected in the quality of the ultimate product.
Another element of particular interest to us is the nature of the soils: we believe that diversity and complexity are essential elements that go toward the production of a well-balanced wine. The vineyards that came to Mt Difficulty Wines via the Gang of Four are on several different sites on the south side of the Kawarau River at Bannockburn. All were planted early in the 1990’s and are named after historic gold mining references: Long Gully, Mansons Farm, Target Gully, Pipeclay Terrace and Templars Hill.
Each has a specific terroir, largely influenced by climate, and offers a variety of soil types, from open gravels to heavier clays. They are all low in fertility, and include light sands, clays, loams and gravels. Germanic man-made soils, which came about as a result of hydraulic mining and sluicing in the gold mining era of the late 1800’s, can also be found on some blocks. The so-called Bannockburn soil is one of the few soils in the world classified as man-made.
One feature common to all our vineyard soils is the high pH levels: sweet soils are tailor-made for the production of quality wines.
Focus on Sustainability
Mt Difficulty Wines Ltd is an accredited member of the Sustainable Winegrowing initiative (SWNZ).
The Initiative was launched by the New Zealand winegrowing industry in the mid 1990’s to provide guidance on sustainable management of vineyards and wineries. It stemmed from the recognition that, as New Zealand’s natural land and water resources were limited, so too were the natural resources of the winegrowing industry. These resources require not only protection, but enhancement, if the New Zealand winegrowing industry is to flourish long term.
The Sustainable Winegrowing initiative now forms a significant part of New Zealand Wine’s international marketing message. The Initiative covers a wide range of environmental concerns, from conservation to social responsibility.
Mt Difficulty Wines has chosen to use the SWNZ framework for sustainability as a foundation on which to build, targeting a higher level of sustainability than is required by the initiative. Our state-of-the-art waste water treatment plant and the living roof on our new barrel hall are both testament to our intention to do all we can to protect and enhance our environment, both now and in the future.
On Ewineasia.com, you can easily find many of Mt Difficulty’s wines that best defines the expression of its terroir, ethical viticulture and wine-making philosophy.
Click here to find out more…
Or read more about the winery at their website: http://www.mtdifficulty.com/
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