New Zealand: Days in Paradise
Queenstown lies on the South Island of New Zealand. The quiet town is nestled in between snow-covered mountains—the landing at Queenstown Airport alone is a spectacular experience. The beautiful landscapes around Queenstown have become famous, among others, thanks to the «The Lord of the Rings» movies. My short visit to New Zealand was all about experiencing the country’s amazing nature.
Making Wine: Grapes, Passion, and Skill
New Zealand Territory Manager Mary McDermott picked me up at Queenstown Airport on Friday afternoon to visit the Peregrine Winery, one of her customers. Most of Metrohm’s business in New Zealand comes from wineries, and the Otago region around Queenstown is famous for its wines, especially Pinot Noir. At the Peregrine Winery, we met with assistant winemaker Ben Tombs, who told us all about the family business.
The Peregrine Winery has been producing wines since 1998. Ben tells us that chemical analysis is an important part of every step of wine production: starting with the grapes to various points during fermentation to the finished wine. It’s important to know parameters such as the pH value, total acid, sugars, and maleic acid to be able to control the characteristics of the wine. Talking to Ben really showed Mary and me the degree to which winemaking is an art—and a science. A lot of knowledge and passion go into making harmonious wines.
The Peregrine Winery specializes in blends of grapes from different subregions of Otago: «We want to make wines that represent the whole Otago region,» Ben explains. The grapes from different subregions are fermented separately. When the fermentation is complete, the wines are tasted to determine which ones go together. But it’s not only the provenance of the grapes that affects the taste of the wine: each barrel is unique and leaves a particular imprint on the flavor. And not all wines are fermented in oak barrels: there are also the options of open and closed tanks. In each step of winemaking, there are countless details to consider that will affect the taste of the finished wine.
A Place for Adventures … or Relaxing
Queenstown is small and fairly quiet, but beautifully situated on Lake Wakatipu among mountains. It’s a popular destination for adventure and outdoor tourism—whether it’s rock climbing, mountain biking, skiing or snowboarding, jetboating, paragliding, or bungee jumping, you can do it here. Thanks to the many young visitors that Queenstown attracts, it’s become an attractive place with bars, restaurants, and a vibrant nightlife.
Queenstown is home to the first commercial bungee jumping site at the Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ve probably already guessed by now that our local Metrohm colleagues offered me to have a go at it. I would do a lot for my job, but a bungee jump is just over my limit. But it turns out that, if you’re not in an adventurous mood, but rather up for relaxing a bit, Queenstown is still a great place to be. Just enjoy the peaceful lake and mountain views, local wines, and good food. Thanks to New Zealand’s volcanic activity, you can even enjoy the mountain views and a good wine while relaxing in a hot pool. Life could be worse …