The region is located on the northern end of the south island, nestled around the town of Blenheim, and for many years was a sheep region. It was Montana wines, who in 1973 planted the first vines in the region “too far south to grow good wine.” At the time the region was the southernmost region in the country, but nowadays Central Otago takes south to a whole new level.
Plenty of sunshine hours, relatively low rainfall and cool temperatures provide the perfect conditions for growing world-class Sauvignon Blanc the region is renowned for. Other whites grown include Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer and Sparkling wines. Pinot Noir dominates the red varieties grown, though is typically lighter bodied than Central Otago or Martinborough Pinots.
The wine regions surrounding the town of Geelong are varied and diverse, from the subregions of the Surf Coast and Otways to the Bellarine Peninsula and Moorabool Valley.
Historically, Geelong was the largest grape-growing region in Victoria (in the 1800s) and in more recent times has undergone somewhat of a renaissance. In the last few decades, winemakers have been rediscovering the rich soils and a climate that is somewhere (some say halfway) between France's Bordeaux and Burgundy regions.
The region is known for boutique, family owned winegrowers producing quality hand crafted wines, more so than any bigger winery operations. Varietally speaking, Geelong is renowned for its superior Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Whilst these 3 are the staple of most winegrowers and makers, the more adventurous have been known to grow and make Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Merlot and even some of the more left-field types like Primitivo, Gamay, Carmenere and Langrein.
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