Ultimate Guide to the Central Otago Wine Region

The Central Otago wine region is relatively new to New Zealand’s winemaking industry. See our collection of wine pictures. ­
iStockphoto/Linda & Colin McKie

­The beautiful islands of New Zealand are filled with treasures of antiquity, but they ­are also home to some of the world's notable wine regions. The Central Otago wine region is located in the south-central part of New Zealand's South Island. Cut off from the oceans, the area's wine growers are free from the distraction of warm, sunny beaches. They can get down to business -- wine business, that is.

Central Otago is relatively new to the winemaking industry in New Zealand, but being a novice hasn't stopped the region from becoming a top wine producer [source: New Zealand Wine, Otagowine]. Other regions from the country are more famous and have longer, richer histories of winemaking, but Central Otago is quickly rising to fame and becoming an important producer in terms of output. For example, the Wairarapa wine region is prominent and nationally and globally recognized in the wine world. Central Otago has recently produced significantly more acres of grapes for wine production than Wairarapa [source: New Zealand Wine, Otagowine]. That's not too bad for a newcomer.

­Many countries around the world use Appellations of Origin to stake their claims on foods and beverages. New Zealand does not use such a system, but the country does maintain strict rules and regulations about how New Zealand w­ines can be exported and sold locally [source: New Zealand Wine]. Even though its wine bottles do not include a familiar AO label, rest assured that New Zealand's wines are not substandard. In fact, due to New Zealand's extensive research and attention to detail in winemaking, New Zealand winemakers are fierce competitors and are dedicated to producing high quality wines.

In this article, we'll look at the history and culture of the Central Otago wine region. Then we'll explore the agriculture and famous wines of the region. Read on to learn about the history of this hidden treasure.