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As a pioneer of Central Otago, Rudi Bauer understands and believes with a passion in the wonderful future for Central Otago as a fine wine growing region. With two decades of experience making first-class wine there, he sees himself at the beginning of the journey, one that will by necessity be carried on by generations after him.<br /><br />Raymond Chan In Central Otago, every day is a holiday. This landscape is so fantastic and the region is so strkingly beautiful and it's a bonus to grow grapes so well here.<br /><br />Rudi Bauer As a pioneer of Central Otago, Rudi Bauer understands and believes with a passion in the wonderful future for Central Otago as a fine wine growing region. With two decades of experience making first-class wine there, he sees himself at the beginning of the journey, one that will by necessity be carried on by generations after him.<br /><br />Raymond Chan In Central Otago, every day is a holiday. This landscape is so fantastic and the region is so strkingly beautiful and it's a bonus to grow grapes so well here.<br /><br />Rudi Bauer Quartz Reef applies the proven winemaking talents of Austrian-born Rudi Bauer, who continues to enjoy & explore the Pinot Noir's many dimensions, and the convergence of the old and the new wine worlds.

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Central Otago: Rudi Bauer and Quartz Reef

Sun, 10 February 2019 | Posted by: Jamie Goode, www.wineanorak.com

Rudi in the Bendigo Vineyard

It was great to spend some time with one of the pioneering figures of Central Otago wine, Rudi Bauer. Fresh off the plane from the UK, I picked up a car, drove to Cromwell, checked into my accommodation and then spent four hours talking, tasting and walking through vineyards with him.

When Rudi began working for Rippon in 1989, he was the first qualified winemaker and viticulturist in the region. At that time, Central Otago was just a baby, as wine regions go: it was only two years after the first release of a commercial wine from Central. Rudi was working Black Ridge and William Smith, as well as Rippon. And in Gibbston, there was Chard Farm, Gibbston Valley and Terramea, who were looked after by Rob Hay. There were no vineyards in the Cromwell Basin, now the largest part of Central.

Quartz Reef Bendigo Estate Vineyard

Rudi first came here while he was cycling around South Island, and he met a girl, who’s now his wife. This, as well as the beauty of the place, is why he decided to move here, after doing a vintage with Simi in Sonoma with Zelma Long.

While he was working for Rippon, Rudi began looking around for potential vineyard sites. In 1990, he identified one in Bendigo, but it wasn’t until almost a decade later that he bought it. Bendigo is the warmest sub-region of Central Otago, on the opposite side of the lake from Lowburn and Pisa, with Bannockburn to the south and Wanaka to the north. It’s named after the Bendigo in Victoria, Australia: many of the gold miners here had previously been mining in Bendigo, and brought the name with them.

The view from Bendigo

For four years, 1993-1997, Rudi worked for Giesen at their original winery in Burnham near Christchurch in Canterbury. But the purchase and planting of his own vineyard, the first in Bendigo, was to bring him back to Central. ‘I spent a lot of time looking at the soil types,’ says Rudi. ‘The soil was OK. Then we collected weather data, which was difficult to get, but I got hold of the weather data from when they did the study on the Clyde dam. It took us a while to find water, and then there was the selection of which clones to plant and which rootstock. Then a big question for me was how to translate my experience from Europe, California and Oregon to the conditions here.’

Cross section showing the soil profile

The main vineyard is a 15 hectare north-facing slope, with clay, fine gravel and quartz soils. He began planting this in 1998. It was initially planted with Pinot Noir (clones 10/5, 5, 115, 667, 777 & Abel), with a planting density of between 3500 to 8000 vines per hectare. Later on, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay were added, and then more recently some Gruner Veltliner was added. Next to this is another 15 hectare block which is used to make sparkling base. ‘What I have learned from the land is that it is a much better site than I expected,’ says Rudi, ‘but also that it is a much more difficult site to understand.’

Biodynamic Centre Soil Biodynamic centre soil

Since 2007 he’s been farming with biodynamics, but the journey towards this was an interesting one. ‘I came to New Zealand and the first thing I did when I arrived at Rippon was to sell their herbicides,’ he recalls. ‘The first thing I did when I bought Quartz Reef was to buy herbicides. This tells you two things. One, it is very easy to spend someone else’s money, and two I was so overwhelmed about this site. I had all the three Ws: lack of water, lots of wind and heaps of weeds.’ In addition, mechanical weeding was challenging because there were lots of rocks in the vineyard. But he was still keen on the idea of biodynamics. ‘Finally, after being pregnant for nine years, in 2007 we made the call and from one day to another, we converted the whole lot and never looked back.’

These barrels are where the preps are dynamized by hand

Quartz Reef produces 10-12 000 cases of wine per year altogether, with 5000 of that being sparkling.

The Pinots are lovely wines, and over the years they have become more refined, with better tannins. ‘I always like Pinots with structure,’ says Rudi. ‘But now our structural element is built of titanium, and not stainless steel. It’s lighter; there’s elegance; it’s stronger. You can feel the structure, but it’s not as obvious, as with stainless steel.’

Visit http://www.wineanorak.com/wineblog/new-zealand/central-otago-10-rudi-bauer-and-quartz-reef to read the full blog post

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