The Pasquale Kurow Winery is the first winery in the Waitaki Valley, New Zealand's newest official wine growing region.
The Waitaki River is the natural border between Canterbury and Otago, and the district is actually a part of both regions. In fact, while the winery and Waitaki vineyard are on the Otago side of the river, Pasquale's original Hakataramea vineyard is actually in southern Canterbury.
Comprising an area of some 7,150km2 and reaching from 2000m high Alpine mountains right down to the sea, the Waitaki remains relatively unsettled, with a population of just 21,000 people. The town of Kurow itself has a population of just 350.
Kurow and the surrounding area were nourished by the Gold Rush in the 1860's, but today the Waitaki Valley is known for its agriculture, hydroelectricity and wine.
The most important thing for Pasquale is the terroir of the Waitaki region. Terroir is the concept of certain characteristics being bestowed upon a wine by the geology, geography and climate of the place that it was grown.
Pasquale's Waitaki vineyard sits on a bed of alluvial silts and shingle next to the river. The roots of the grape vines extend deep below the surface, seeking out the limestone that helps give the wines their strong minerality.
The temperature drops a low as -10°C in winter, often covering the hibernating vines in snow. The long spring slowly draws out into a hot, dry summer. This causes the grapes to ripen slowly over a long period of time, giving the final product a lingering flavour.
The Hakataramea vineyard faces the sun on terraced hillsides, where limestone is so prevalent that white boulders lie scattered around the vines. This vineyard is at a higher altitude than the Waitaki, and as a result the winters are even colder, and the summers dryer.
It is the wild savageness of this landscape that give Pasquale's rare Hakataramea wines their unbroken individuality.
For those looking for an exciting place to explore, look no further than the Waitaki Valley. Information can be found in abundance at the Kurow and Oamaru information centres.
The region is a great tourism destination, with activities ranging from cycling (see Alps2Ocean trail) hiking and jetboating to gliding and of course wine tasting.