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Major Planting Underway at Waitaki Valley Estates


Major Planting Underway at Waitaki Valley Estates

A milestone in the upper Waitaki Valley’s trailblazing viticultural industry will be reached this week with the planting of just under 40,000 grape vines.

The landscape around Otiake is undergoing a significant evolution as Waitaki Valley Estates subdivides land on north facing slopes between Duntroon and Kurow into viticultural, horticultural and lifestyle blocks.

Vineyard management consultant Murray Turner says the addition of grape vines to about 10 hectares of Lot 17 of the Grants Road subdivision is the largest single planting to date. A total of 15 hectares of grapes have now been planted at the subdivision with a further eight hectares on a trial block at nearby Doctors Creek also progressing favourably.

“The plantings have generally been a couple of hectares at a time so Lot 17 represents a major undertaking for the investors,” he says.

“The climate, temperature and soil analysis we’ve received for the area and growth rates on existing blocks all look very promising and we’re rally excited about progress to date.”

A team of 10 people will be involved in this week’s planting which is expected to take 20 days to complete. 7.2 hectares have been earmarked for pinot noir clones with the balance set aside for a mix of riesling, sauvignon blanc and pinot gris.

The expertise of well known Central Otago viticulturalist and winemaker Greg Hay has been utilised throughout the project with the first vintage from the area expected to take place in April 2003.

Waitaki Valley Estates represents a group of businesspeople, including Howard Paterson and Colin Reynolds, who recognised the area’s previously untapped potential at a time when supply of quality viticultural land is under pressure in established grape growing regions.

The group also provides the infrastructure that enables others to become involved in the area’s development - from self-management of individual blocks to subcontracting aspects of site development and maintenance.

About half of the first 20 blocks on the Grants Road subdivision have now sold with more sections becoming available in the next six months. As in other grape growing regions around the country, it is anticipated that early investors will make the biggest gains through their involvement in the project.

“The project represents an exciting new chapter in the history of land use in the Waitaki Valley. It is already creating employment opportunities for the community and bringing fresh investment to the area,” Mr Turner says.

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