Central Otago is the most southerly grape growing region, located at 45 degrees south, it shares geographical and climatic conditions with some of the most prestigious wine producing regions. Central Otago has rapidly developed into a wine region with a well established international reputation for Pinot Noir. This variety accounts for more than 75% of vineyard plantings with Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Gris making up for the rest.
Back in the 1880's Frenchman Jean Desire Feraud was making wine near Alexandra. Feraud was originally a goldminer who struck it lucky at a spot now known as Frenchman's Point on the west bank of the Clutha River just south of Alexandra.
He bought up 100 acres of land and set about planting thousands of trees, plants, vines and herbs in his orchard and vineyard. By 1870 he had more than 1200 vines producing fruit, and the wines he produced in the stone winery at Monte Christo were sold locally. He even exhibited wine in Sydney gaining a third class merit. Feraud however was trying to sell fine wine in a young country of beer drinkers where sheep and cattle farming prevailed.
Ferauds thinking was reinforced in 1895 by Italian viticulturist Romeo Bragato. Touring the country on behalf of the government he ensued over the areas wine potential, recording that there was no stateable limit to the productiveness of the magnificent territory. It would however be almost a century before a serious winemaking industry was established. The first commercial wine of this exciting new era was produced in 1988.