Central Otago is not only New Zealand's highest wine region it is also the one that enjoys a true continental climate. The extreme difference between day/night and seasonal temperatures, hot, long summer days and dry auturns provide excellent growing conditions for varieties like Pinot Noir and Riesling. Another aspect that distinguishes it from other regions is the soil structures which are very different, with heavy deposits of mica and schist over silt loams.
There are four sub-regions in Central Otago (Gibbston Valley,Cromwell/Bannockburn,Wanaka, and Alexandra), and while they share similar conditions they are quite distinct. Each vineyard site offers different viticultural challenges and benefits to the winemaker. One common factor is that the sub wine regions are perhaps the most beautiful and awe-inspiring locations in the world.
Production area 2004: 844 hectares (includes Northland)
Principal Varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc