Northburn Station Winery near Cromwell in Central Otago, had a previous life as a sheep station, founded back in 1882. Tom Pinckney, co-owner with his wife Jan, purchased the property in 1993, and planted vines in 1999–their first vintage was a Pinot Noir from the 10×5 clone. Jan’s brother Richard Broadhead (above in photo) is the company wine operations manager and winemaker. They’ve since built an event space/barn they call The Shed and run a restaurant, and farmgate shop from the property. They also serve a wine and small bite pairing menu.
Before my arrival in Otago, Tom took some time to answer questions about his winemaking philosophy and distaste for corned beef.
Signature Wines and Prices:
- Northburn Station Reserve Pinot Noir RRP NZ$45
- Northburn Station Riesling RRP NZ$25
What philosophy guides your viticulture and/or enology? We are organic and bio-grow certified, and practice biodynamics.
What is your biggest challenge as a winemaker (e.g., volatility of Mother Nature, expense to income ratio, having to actually market your wine)? Attracting people to our facility (cellar door), and selling volumes at appropriate prices; expense-to-income ratio always a problem mainly due to the low volumes we produce, therefore fixed costs are spread over a small revenue base. However, sales are growing strongly!
What are the benefits and drawbacks of grape growing/winemaking in your region? We are ‘on the edge’ therefore yields are low and canopy management costs high.
What excites you most about New Zealand wines right now? Their quality and potential to maintain high prices.
How do you think Americans perceive NZ wines? High quality, high cost.
What is your favorite non-kiwi wine region? Bordeaux. Least? Southern England.
Which wine or grape (in the world) is the least understood or respected? Riesling. People still don’t get this grape.
What do you drink at home when relaxing? Our own Riesling and Pinot Noir and a wide range of European wines.
How do you spend your free time (if you have any)? I play a lot of sports with my young family.
If you could be traveling somewhere else right now, where would you be? Japan to go skiing.
Give one surprising fact about yourself. Hate corned beef….too much at boarding school!