"As we release our fifth collaboration wine, I'd like to share with you how "The Great Grape Swap" came to be. Burn Cottage Winemaker Claire Mulholland and I made wine together at Gibbston Valley Wines through the late '90s, where we not only made wines for Gibbston Valley with grapes grown around the winery, but also for a number of the region's new wineries just starting up with grapes from their vineyards spread all across Central Otago.
We were the first to see wines from these new sites within new subregions and I don’t think you necessarily have to be a winemaker to understand how much pleasure we got from being the very first people ever to see how these various places expressed themselves through Pinot Noir. The idea that Central Otago is a number of different subregions producing different styles of Pinot Noir is something that became deeply embedded in us both from very early on. Those years would be without question the most exciting time for me as far as winemaking in Central Otago is concerned, and having someone to share it with, to bounce thoughts and ideas off, only made it more so.
I left Gibbston Valley wines in 2006 to focus on Valli - making single vineyard Pinot Noirs from different subregions, sharing with anyone interested what Claire and I had learnt. After all, it wasn’t being done and it needed to be done. Fast forward a few years and Claire has taken on the winemaker role at Burn Cottage Vineyard. Leading up to the 2014 vintage, we were having a discussion about subregions and then an idea that just seemed to appear all by itself was to make a swap, to exchange just a small amount of grapes between 1 and 2 Tonnes. The idea of working with Claire again was very appealing, as was having fruit from Lowburn or at least the part of Lowburn where Burn Cottage's vineyards are. And so it began.
Looking back, the most important thing has been working with another winery with pretty much an identical philosophy which doesn’t happen as often as you would think. That philosophy is to make the very best wine possible from each site allowing the site to express itself, and then to present wines that in price express only their cost of production, not some ego-driven marketing hype. We hope you enjoy drinking the wines as much as we have enjoyed making them."