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Saturday 7 April 2018

Discover one of the most beautiful vineyards on earth

A former high country sheep station set against a backdrop of the western flank of Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps, Rippon Vineyard offers one of the most beautiful cellar door views in the world - and is a "must visit" for anyone spending time in Central Otago.

Rippon is Wanaka's oldest vineyard and a Central Otago pioneer, farmed by five generations of one family and now a leading biodynamic producer.

In 1975, Rolfe Mills, the third generation of his family on the farm, started to plant a series of experimental rows of grape vines. Seven years later he and his wife Lois planted the first block of vines with the express interest of growing high-quality wine. They released their first commercial vintage in 1989.

Today, Rippon grows pinot noir, gewurztraminer, sauvignon blanc, riesling and the rare osteiner grape, a cross between riesling and sylvaner.

The land continues to be farmed by the Mills family, together with dedicated long-term staff - and the views remain unsurpassed. Biodynamic farming, wild ferments, no irrigation and some of Central Otago’s oldest vines on their own roots all help to produce fruit and wines which represent a true sense of place.

Winemaker Nick Mills, a former world-class skier, returned home to New Zealand after several years working with the likes of Alain and Sophie Meunier at Domaine JJ Confuron, and Pascal Marchand (late of Domaine Comte Armand and now at Domaine de la Vougeraie) in Burgundy.

Informal tastings of up to seven wines are available each day - usually of current releases - and there is no tasting fee. Groups of seven or more must book in advance for a private tasting.

Fingers crossed you get the charming and very knowledgeable Leslie Johnston as your tasting guide.

Rippon is open from 11am-5pm daily at 246 Wanaka-Mount Aspiring Road, Wanaka, New Zealand. +64 3 443 8084.

# The writer was guest of Rippon Vineyard and The Rees Hotel and Residences, Queenstown.

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