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Gibbston Valley Wine Cave 10th Birthday

Press Release


Queenstown 6 December 2005

Gibbston Valley Wine Cave 10th Birthday Celebration

This week the Gibbston Valley Wine Cave celebrates its 10th Birthday. The Wine Cave, tunnelled 75 metres into solid rock, is a testament to the innovative pioneering spirit of Central Otago’s early winemakers, and ten years on it remains the largest Wine Cave in the country. Gibbston Valley Wines are inviting locals and visitors to the region to share in the celebrations with free tours showcasing a tasting of three different vintages of Gold Medal Pinot Noirs. The free tours will start at 11:30, 1:30 and 3:30 on Saturday the 10th and Sunday the 11th of December.

The Cave is the brainchild of Gibbston Valley’s founder and wine-pioneer Alan Brady. Alan had many times visited similar caves in Europe, and dreamed of creating one in his home region. Not just for the romance, but also for the practicality: wine in the barrel requires a quiet environment in which to develop, free from variations in temperature. With the extreme temperature range of Central Otago’s inland continental climate – resulting in cold winters and hot summers – the wine cave maintains a constant, cool temperature all year round that provides the ideal sanctuary for maturing the award-winning wines.

Back in 1995, it was a bold commitment to the future of the Central Otago wine industry. The cost was far greater than a more modest barrel room – it took the tunnelling team that worked on the Clyde Dam three months of hard labour, and one and a half tons of gelignite to tunnel and blast the cave into the solid schist mountain behind the winery. But the decision has paid dividends. The Gibbston Valley Wine Cave has become a drawcard for visitors from around the world, and now attracts over 40,000 visitors annually fascinated by the experience of learning about and tasting some of the region's finest wines in the unique setting the wine cave creates.

When it was first constructed, the 1400 cubic metre cave dwarfed the 70-odd barrels of the 1995 Pinot Noir the harvest provided. Ten years on and the 380 barrels from last year’s vintage had the cave almost bursting at the seams!

During the last decade the Wine Cave has played host to a range of other activities – more than 200 couples have taken their wedding vows in the intimate atmosphere of quiet serenity, soft candlelight and the heady aromas emanating from the French oak barrels and maturing wine. Inebriated ‘monks’ have poured wines for corporate functions, and some years ago the image of the face of an angel appeared in the contours of the cave’s ceiling. The cave’s amazing acoustics have provided a reverberant venue for several concerts over the years – from operatic arias, a string quartet and a violin recital by Queenstown magnate Michael Hill.

Given the fledgling nature of the wine industry in Central Otago ten years ago the notion of tunnelling a hole in a mountain to store wine may have seemed a little weird. Even for a region like Queenstown – where people are more inclined to jump off mountains than climb into them. Alan Brady’s vision has now become a quintessential part of the Central Otago wine landscape.

Gibbston Valley Wines is a boutique producer of the highest quality wines, set in Queenstown's spectacular Gibbston Valley. They are one of the original pioneers of the Central Otago wine region and produced the first commercial vintage for the region in 1987. Today it is NZ's most visited winery, and a leading food and wine experience. It comprises vineyard, wine cave, restaurant, wine tours, courtyard alfresco dining, wine sales and gift shop. Gibbston Valley Wines has won more awards for Pinot Noir than any other winery in New Zealand, including the trophy at the London International Wine Challenge for the top Pinot Noir/Burgundy in the world.


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