Bannockburn, home to Carrick wines is found deep in the southern interior of the South Island of New Zealand in the wine region of Central Otago.
Nestled at the southern end of one of the broad glacial river valleys surrounded by the Cairnmuir and Carrick mountain ranges, Bannockburn enjoys a continental climate with low rainfall and high sunshine hours. The long cool autumns with their warm days and cool nights create ideal conditions for the production of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling. Other grape varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris also thrive in Central Otago's microclimate.
In 1993 Carrick's first vineyard was planted with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc on the north facing Cairnmuir Terraces surrounded by the waters of Lake Dunstan. On the Eastern side of Cairnmuir Road our vineyards produce Pinot Noir and Riesling.
Situated on windblown loess soils the vineyards have low natural fertility encouraging the vines to grow their roots into the deep fractured schist layers resulting in wines of character and structure. Mindful of the special nature of the soils, Carrick is farmed using only organic practices. In order to produce exceptional wines; pruning, shoot positioning, shoot and fruit thinning, leaf plucking and picking are carried out by hand. There is extensive use of cover crops to encourage natural biodiversity and useful insects and we are rewarded by the numbers of beneficial birds that live in the vineyards. The "must" from the winery along with other organic material is composted and fed back to the vineyards. The compost heaps are also the territory of our free range hens who roam the vineyard and provide eggs for the restaurant.
Carrick strives to make wines that speak truthfully of their vineyard origins. Our winemaker, Francis Hutt, works closely with our viticulturist Blair Deaker to make vineyard and winery decisions that will enhance the finished wines, as well as staying true to our organic values.
The Pinot Noir grape blocks are picked as the winemaker determines, by taste and ripeness. Each parcel is fermented separately following a cool soak in open fermenters using wild yeasts and usually with a proportion of whole bunches. The grapes are hand plunged several times a day until the wine is dry. The winemaker then determines the optimum time for the wine to go to barrel. This is probably one of the most important stages in winemaking and is a process that should not be hurried. The wine is gravity fed to the French oak barrels in the underground cellar, where they are aged for 12 months. Bottling follows tasting, assessment and blending.
Chardonnay is fermented and aged in French oak barriques.
The other white varieties with the exception of Sauvignon Blanc, are whole bunch pressed then fermented in stainless steel tanks. The Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris are predominantly made in stainless steel but a proportion of the Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc is made in old barrels and stirred over lees to give texture and interest to the finished wine.