The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

New organic vineyard for Otago

Bordeaux-based French wine producer, Edmond de Rothschild Heritage Wines, has been granted consent to acquire a 52 hectares estate with 34.5ha of vines in Central Otago’s Bannockburn, along with the Akarua Estate vineyard (formerly owned by the Skeggs Group).

When fully converted and organically certified over the coming decade, the Central Otago vineyard will produce more than 60,000 bottles of organic wines annually for the international and domestic markets.

The nine vineyards owned by Edmond de Rothschild Heritage across France, Spain, South Africa, Argentina and New Zealand produce 3.5 million bottles of wine every year, however the Central Otago vineyard will mark the group’s first entry into the organic market.

Edmond de Rothschild Heritage’s premium estates wine offering is distributed across 80 countries and is set to increase access for New Zealand’s organic wine exports into new international market segments.

The company aims to extend their range with a premium Pinot Noir produced from the exceptional terroir found in Central Otago.

The wines will continue to be produced under the Akarua brand with new labelling for their 2023 vintage in the domestic market integrating distinctive elements of the Edmond de Rothschild family crest into its design.

Ariane de Rothschild, president of the Edmond de Rothschild Group, says that the South Island site was handpicked as the location for the production of their new Pinot Noir.

She says the mineral complexity of Central Otago’s soil is world-renowned for providing exceptional growing conditions for this varietal and the terroir at Bannockburn is on par with the Burgundy region in Eastern France – with the potential to produce the world’s finest Pinot Noir.

“The addition of our second New Zealand winery is part of our wider strategy to develop a portfolio of premium international wines from exceptional terroirs,” she says.

“Central Otago’s international reputation for Pinot Noir provides a unique opportunity for us to complete our range and move into the production of organic wines – one of the fastest growing categories.”

The Skeggs Group managing director David Skeggs says the new ownership of the Akarua Estate Vineyard will bring new opportunities for the Central Otago wine industry thanks to the significant global influence and networks of Edmond de Rothschild Heritage.

“It is not without sadness that we hand over the Akarua legacy to Edmond de Rothschild Heritage, but we are equally as excited to follow the brand’s future in New Zealand and overseas.
“Akarua has been part of our family since 1996 and we have real affection for the history and success that we have achieved.”

The Skeggs Group will continue to produce its Rua brand from its 90 hectares of established vineyards in the Bannockburn and Pisa sub-regions.

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