Winery stories are rarely straightforward. They twist and weave as the winery develops a character and persona all its own.
And so it is with Carrick. Barbara and Steve Green planted a rabbit infested block of land on the shores of the yet to be filled Lake Dunstan in 1994. Their knowledge was academic, with some practical experience as enthusiastic consumers. They loved Pinot Noir and were impressed with the efforts of pioneers Alan Brady and Rolf Mills in the early 1990s.
From that time they watched and guided the vineyard, and then the winery, through the early days of sustainable grapegrowing, sustainable winemaking and, in 2008, organic production and three years later, full organic certification.
Each vintage there has been some refinement and change. A development of Chardonnay in the cool climate style. Rieslings - there are now 3 - with individual characters expressing fruit, racy acidity, and varying levels of sweetness. Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc with barrel fermentation adding texture and complexity. And, of course, Pinot Noir in styles that range from readily approachable to those demanding to be cellared.
A Sense of Place
Carrick has always been about place. The name derives from the gold mining town and the mountain range to which Carrick looks. The wines are of Central Otago and its subregion, Bannockburn. Carrick's own vineyards are nestled around the winery and every effort is made to allow the wines to express their place and their providence.
Bannockburn sits at the southern end of the Cromwell Basin which was formed as a result of glacial action over millions of years. The prevailing northerly winds have deposited a thick layer of this glacial loess over the shattered rock at Carrick. While our vines work hard in this environment we give them all the support we can with our microbes and our compost.
We see the type of soils we have as a real benefit. Grape vines may struggle, but the intense flavours from low yielding vines reward us well.
Its a cliche to say wines are made in the vineyard, but they often are. We believe that the quality of our fruit is the key determinant in the quality of the wine. Hence, we work hard to make the vineyard all it can be. Organic practices may make us more exposed to the traditional problems with disease and pests but they also make us more aware of the mood of the vineyard and what it needs from us. Blair and his team work hard to ensure that they know exactly what needs to be done and respond accordingly. And because many of our practices are by hand - pruning, shoot thinning, leave thinning and harvesting - we are never remote from it. We share the vineyard with a small mob of sheep, and our resident chickens.
We place importance on having our own winery, right in the vineyards. We can make harvesting decisions based on what is best for the wine rather than some remotely developed roster. This flexibility also allows us to process our grapes in the best possible way, gently and, of course, organically.
In Francis' view the grapes guide the wine. So our wines not only express place, but also season. There is no formula, no set winemaking style, and the individuality of the wines is our reward.
The Carrick Bend, a nautical knot, is the symbol that embodies the Carrick philosophy of grape growing and wine making. The tying of the knot signifies the bringing together of our viticulture, our winemaking and “our place” which includes Carrick vineyards with the historic and geographic icons of the neighbourhood - the Carrick mountain range, the Carrick Riding and the Carrick Goldfields.