Rippon was the first winery I visited in Central Otago and until today, it’s high on my list of wineries I constantly recommend to overseas guest and travellers, not only because it has hands down the most stunning view but their wines are outstanding too.
So I’m very excited to finally share a bit more about this eye-candy that’s based on the shores of Lake Wanaka with you today. I caught up with Jo Mills, Export/Sales & Marketing Manager at Rippon, and member of the Mills family who’s looking after that land for more than 100 years now.
Who started Rippon and when?
The Rippon story really begins back in 1912 when Sir Percy Sargood bought what was then Wanaka Station, of which Rippon forms one of the remaining parts. His grandson, Rolfe, was a submarine lieutenant in the Second World War and spent time in the Douro Valley in Portugal. There, he saw schist similar to that of Wanaka and vines planted on south-facing slopes and there the seed was planted.
Fast forward to the mid 1970s where Rolfe and Lois were farming Wanaka Station with angora goats. They planted their first experimental vines, were buoyed by what they saw and moved to France with their three young children to see if they could live the life of vignerons. That got a tick too so they returned home to Wanaka and, in 1982, planted the first commercial vines.
What’s the story behind the brand name?
As above but, to add to this, Rippon is the maiden name of Percy’s grand-mother, Emma so the great-great grandmother of the current and fourth generation of family farmers on the land today.
What sets you apart from other wineries in the region?
Not sure that we’re the ones who can answer that! Our history is similar to so many of the farmers in the region, whether those growing grapes or farming in a different way. This is certainly one of the things of which we are most proud and which guides us in everything we do from applying biodynamic principles to all aspects of our farming, from the way in which the team works and the way in which we approach every aspect of our craft.
We’ve been on the land for 4 generations, we have the 5th generation running around us and we’d like to think that we are doing all we can to look after the land for the generations to come.
What’s your signature wine?
The “Rippon” Pinot Noir which we often refer to as “The Farm Voice”.
Grown from all the mature vines (over around 15 years old and up to 34) on the vineyard, vines that are unirrigated and ungrafted, on their own roots and in direct contact with Rippon’s schist soil, this is the wine which, for us, speaks most clearly of the land from which the wine is born.
Most memorable winemaking moment?
The sight of Shannon, our vineyard manager, hosing down three swarthy cellar hands after pigeage in just their undies and their faces as the cold, hard jet of water reach them is one which none of us will forget in a while.
Shannon is a woman who prides herself on winery and vineyard hygiene…
Winery dog or cat? Or other pet animals?
Endless dogs, three cows and a bull, a smattering of chickens and more than our fair share of rabbits….
Top 3 things to do in your area?
Eat, drink and be merry.
Our vintage parties are …
…strictly off the record.