Chenin Blanc is one of the classic wine grape varieties of France. Its origins date back over 1000 years where it took root in the Loire Valley. Much like its more aromatic cousin, Sauvignon Blanc, the Chenin is a vigorous, productive variety that tends to give its most unique expression in less fertile soils and cooler sites.
Chenin is blessed with capacity to retain acidity making it highly suitable for wines worthy of cellaring. These features combine at Queensberry in Central Otago where the poor schistous soils and cool, dry climate offer ideal growing conditions to make fine Chenin Blanc.
Three years after the initial planting we produced our first small vintage of 15 cases. This truly home-made wine became known as The “Bus Stop” vintage. Each day we would wait for the rural school bus and chat with Jeff Sinnott (destined to become our wine maker one day) who held an enthusiasm equal to our own about growing and making Chenin Blanc!
We (Dean really) made the wine in older French oak barrels that were loaded onto a trailer. We wheeled this into the sun during the day and back into the shed at night where we swaddled the barrels in electric blankets to protect them from the freezing Central Otago winter at night and so to keep a long slow ferment from getting stuck!.
Deb Cruickshank (DC Wines) finished this first vintage for us in her small boutique winery in Cromwell, and agreed to help us the following year. We never thought, at this time, that we would ever be able to make a volume and variety of quality wine on-site ourselves?, but here we are.
Deb Cruickshank (DC Wines) finished this first vintage for us in her small boutique winery in Cromwell, and agreed to help us the following year