Amisfield Winery Celebrates Record Season

Published: Tue 11 Apr 2006 12:07 AM
Amisfield Winery Celebrates Record Season
Central Otago’s Amisfield Wine Company is celebrating a record vintage coinciding with the launch of its multi million dollar state-of-the-art production facility which will process 400 tonnes of top quality grapes in its first season.
The purpose built facility at Amisfield’s Lowburn vineyard on the shores of Lake Dunstan, has a 600 tonne capacity and centres round a cuverie for Pinot Noir production, which is the company’s flagship wine.
The two level rustic agricultural style complex incorporates leading technology and further stages are planned to cater for increased production and eventually a packaging plant.
Amisfield winemaker Jeff Sinnott says 300 tonnes of Pinot Noir and 100 tonnes of aromatic wines including Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and sparkling varieties will be produced at the facility this season.
“We are now well underway. It is proving to be a bumper season for Central Otago and for Amisfield due to all the right ingredients coming together at the same time. We are processing probably the best fruit we have ever seen and the production facility is everything we had hoped and more.”
“Our experienced crew have moved into the complex and come to grips with the technology very quickly. We have over 100 years of winemaking experience amongst the six of us involved and that knowledge and skill certainly shows.”
Amisfield’s sustainable, ‘grown not made’ approach to its operation is reflected in the new production facility.
“Designing a building specifically for Pinot Noir production had its challenges because pinot requires a greater degree of sensitivity than other varieties. The skins are fragile and fruit needs to be treated gently,” says Mr Sinnott. “For this reason we gravity feed and use conveyor belts where possible to carry the fruit rather than pump it.”
Mr Sinnott says the impact of the winemaker needs to be minimal to best reflect the true characteristics of the wine. “That’s what we’re achieving with the sophisticated systems we have developed in the new complex.”
Two high-tech wine presses have been installed, the same model used in the majority of vineyards in Burgundy in France
Pneumatic plungers are used in combination with traditional hand plunging methods. “Really what we are doing is using traditional processes but adding technology to increase efficiency.”
A custom built recycled waste plant which is the first of its kind used on a New Zealand vineyard is fully operational and achieving excellent results.
“All the waste from the winery is channelled through aquatic plants we have established in a wetland area as part of the treatment system. The water is used to irrigate the vineyard and the solid waste is composted and added back to the land providing essential nutrients which have been missing from the soil.”
The new winery designed by Christchurch architect Charlie Nott will be officially launched at a special function later in the year. Its establishment is a milestone for the Amisfield Wine Company whose highlights include being named New Zealand’s best winery restaurant in the 2006 Cuisine Restaurant of the Year Awards.

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