Rippon VineyardsLake Wanaka – Central Otago
In 1974, Lois and the late Rolfe Mills moved back to the family farm in Wanaka. Acting largely on a hunch born in the schist slopes of the Douro Valley many years earlier, they planted a few short rows of experimental vines on a small steep bank above their house. Despite the mostly negative opinions of the viticultural experts of the time, the climate data that Rolfe collected was encouragement enough for them to plant their first commercial vineyard block in 1982. The growing belief they had in the site’s potential to produce fine wine was soon to be realised.
There were many years of monitoring weather patterns, sugar levels and different grape varieties that could be suitable to the area. Through many years of empirical and scientific observation, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Gewurztraminer & Sauvignon Blanc quickly came to the fore as the varieties which are most suited to the Rippon site. We also enjoy working with Gamay and Osteiner, from which we make lighter style summer wines.
Some of the varieties which we have worked with, but have been replaced are Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Gris, Semillon, Chenin Blanc, Muller Thurgau, Breidecker, Chardonnay. The total area under vines is now 15 hectares with the majority of plantings in Pinot Noir and Riesling.
Granted custodianship over this very special piece of land, the family’s principle goal is to create vins de terroir, wines that are an accurate reflection of their surroundings.
It is the micro-life in our soils which, in their ability to metabolise minerals into a form that vines can assimilate, are the link in between plants and the earth. This simple biology is the essential framework in producing a wine which is true to its soil and site. With this understanding comes an absolute respect for the land and life therein and it is for this reason that Rippon is run biodynamically.
Decisions made in the vineyard and winery first consider the effect the outcome may have on the micro-flora of the soils, vines & wines.