Gibbston toasts its pinot X-factor at sunny Wine and Food Festival

16:00, Mar 16 2014

International wine writers now recognise the "Gibbston factor" in some of the world's best pinot noirs, wine pioneer Alan Brady says.

Queenstown and the Gibbston wineries held their own celebration of the area's distinctive wines at the Gibbston Wine and Food Festival on Saturday.

Mr Brady, the first person to plant grapes in Gibbston 30 years ago, gave a master class with Gibbston Valley winemaker Christopher Keys on the special characteristics of the valley.

The area was probably the most clearly defined of the Central Otago wine sub-regions and had now developed its own distinct characteristics, which were coming through in the wine, he told the Southland Times.

"We are known for elegance and subtleness. Wine writers are picking up on it and calling it the Gibbston factor. That's something pretty important to us."

For Mr Brady, the purest expression of pinot noir was when grapes came from a single site and there were many in that category available on Saturday.

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Ten Gibbston wineries were busy selling and discussing their produce during the day as about 2000 people sampled their wine in the sun to a background of jazz and good food.

Festival co-ordinator Julie Hughes said the still weather was perfect for the day and the shift in venue from Gibbston to the Queenstown Gardens was a hit.

Crowds were relaxed and the wine and food master classes were extremely popular.

There was barely standing room when previous Masterchef winner Brett McGregor and current contestants Bec Stanley and Jaimie Stodler, of Arrowtown, gave cooking demonstrations.

Sessions to hear the winemakers speak were also filled to capacity.

A children's area with face-painting, bouncy castles and activities was popular with families.

"This is an event we want to share with families," Ms Hughes said. "It's all about responsible drinking, tasting, experiencing and learning something new."

The Southland Times