Our favourite Central Otago Winery has just turned 21 and what a 21 years it has been. Rockburn started as Hayes Lake, a winemaking venture that surgeon Dick Brunton purchased and fell in love with. It wasn’t the best vineyard site, nor let’s face it the best wine, but it’s what got it all started.
From there Dick quickly worked out (he thought) what he had to do and knew he needed cash. Enter two old friends, Paul Halford and Chris James. Three winemakers later (the first Greg Hay, then Rudi Bauer and now Malcolm Rees Francis), Rockburn has turned 21, has a host of beautiful vineyards and a new winery in Cromwell.
At their 21st Birthday recently, I was invited to speak about Rockburn and drew on a conversation I’d had earlier in the day with Malcolm. He’d asked what customers were looking for, what was the latest. I replied that, wines that are authentic, honest and reliable and on trend. He seemed to have hoped for a different answer, something that led to new toys in the winery or experimenting; let’s face it, no winemaker likes to be told, you are doing a bloody good job, keep doing it! Rockburn have recently been awarded a Platinum award by Decanter, so seems it’s not just me that thinks this.