why gewurztraminer

Gewurz means 'spicy' in German while traminer means 'coming from Tramin', a wine‐growing district of southern Tyrol, Northern Italy, where Gewurztraminer originated. Now however the benchmark Gewurztraminers are, without doubt, the great Grand Cru Gewurztraminer’s from the Alsace region of France. I had long believed that the geographic and climatic similarities between the Alsace region and parts of New Zealand were remarkably similar and that Gewurztraminer from New Zealand could become recognised as being amongst the best in the world.  

In 1972 I pioneered the variety commercially at Huapai and later in the 70's I had used the principles of terroir to identify a location at Ormond, Gisborne as a perfect site for aromatic grape varieties. I persuaded the owner, who was growing Muller Thurgau for Nobilo Wines at the time, to re-plant with Gewurztraminer. As lovers of wine will know, the term ‘Terroir’ covers a multitude of factors; surrounding typography, soil type and local climate all come into play together, and this place had them all!  

The perfect location that years later I eventually selected to become the future Vinoptima Estate isn’t far from that original vineyard and benefits from the same unique microclimate that I knew could produce outstanding Gewurztraminer. It’s protected from the extremes of weather by low-lying foothills to the South, East and North of the property. The climate is also hotter and drier than the cooler growing climate of the coast, producing an unusually high intensity in aromatic wine varieties, which of course, is perfect for the Vinoptima Estate’s Gewurztraminer grapes. While the alluvial soils, high in magnesium and boron, provided the final piece in the terroir mosaic.