9 Dec 2016

Wool and Wine

From Country Life, 9:17 pm on 9 December 2016

As well as producing fine wool for the fashion industry and attracting worldwide attention with the discovery of Shrek the hermit sheep, Bendigo Station has now been transformed into Central Otago's newest wine area.

John Perriam

John Perriam Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

John Perriam has been farming sheep at Bendigo since 1979 and was at the centre of farmer-driven initiative that led to the formation of New Zealand Merino – now a very successful marketing organisation for merino wool fibre producers.

Using his entrepreneurial skills, John has transformed the dusty lower north-facing slopes of the 11,000 hectare property into a new wine-producing area called Bendigo Vineyards. The paddocks were once rabbit infested and considered worthless.

Rudi Bauer from Quartz Reef established the first vineyard at Bendigo and, because the setting is particularly well suited to growing pinot noir grapes, several others winemakers quickly followed.

The Bendigo Vineyard wines are now highly sought after, as is the land.

"We've installed three water schemes, roading and subdivisions so it was a huge task and we have sold a lot of niche and bigger blocks both to corporates and individuals and it's growing, I think, some of the best pinot fruit in New Zealand now" John says.

A new wine producing area.

A new wine producing area. Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes