A commitment to excellence in every stage of the winemaking process has notched up some impressive accolades for Central Otago winery Two Degrees.
Earlier this year Two Degrees Pinot Noir 2016 took the trophy for Best Pinot Noir in the Royal Easter Wine Show in Auckland. This however was not a ﬁrst.
From the 11 vintages Di and Richard Somerville have made from their 6ha vineyard – midway between Wanaka and Cromwell – their Two Degrees pinot noirs have won that trophy three times.
Previously it was wines from the 2014 and 2009 vintages that came up trumps in the Easter show, but they have also won numerous other awards in competitions along the way.
The couple are both South Islanders born and bred, and despite living in Australia for many years they were always drawn back to Central Otago for family holidays.
They already owned a 2600 hectare high country sheep and beef farm, Queensberry Ridges, when they decided to plant some 15,000 vines on some of the ideally suited, gently sloping free draining soils on the property in 2003.
The view of the St Bathans Range across the river makes this a spectacular site. In planning the vineyard they worked with local consultant Robin Dicey. Today viticulturalist Chris Hill manages the dayto-day running of the property.
The ﬁrst harvest was in 2007, by which time the Somervilles were living back in New Zealand on the shores of Lake Wanaka.
A gentle slope of only Two Degrees separates the Pisa Range at the vineyard’s back doorstep from the Clutha River bordering the front of the property.
The Somervilles say that the “Two Degrees of separation” is just enough for their vines to shed any inconsiderate frosts the Otago climate might produce.
It is the perfect angle of repose for the pinot noir grapes to bask in Otago’s summer sun, creating the rich, intense ﬂavours of the wines, they say. Hence the name, Two Degrees Wine.
The name is also a reminder that chilly nights coupled with warm sunny days give the diurnal range which is so important to the production of pinot noir.
A banker in his previous life in Sydney, Richard got to understand the challenges “at the big end of town where major retailers ran your business”, and was determined there was a niche market opportunity at the other end of the scale for boutique wineries. He says he wanted to be “not beholden to the big mass market”.
The model has paid off handsomely. Through careful nurturing of grapes and crop management they aim to harvest around 5 to 6 tonnes per hectare, each year bottling around 1000 cases of pinot noir and 150 cases of rosé wine made from pinot noir grapes.
The wines are made under contract through Maude Winery in Wanaka.
Two Degrees exports around half of its production to Australia, selling the rest in New Zealand through the Lazy Dog Restaurant and Vineyard, selected wine shops and restaurants throughout New Zealand, private clients, and through mail order from their website.
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