The boldness to undertake, the courage to invent
The realisation of vision
In October 2022 Edmond de Rothschild Heritage purchased 34.5 hectares of established vineyards belonging to Akarua, a historic and pioneering vineyard in Central Otago; an important and much-longed-for addition to the Edmond de Rothschild Heritage range. Hand-selected by Anne Escalle's team for its unique terroir and rare balanced conditions suited to producing very fine pinot noirs.
Across the nine estates spread over four continents, owned by Edmond de Rothschild Heritage, Ariane de Rothschild's vision remains consistent; to reveal the quintessence of the terroirs and enhance their inherent character while respecting the environment, and to elevate the wines to their highest heights: a vision her team here most wholeheartedly believe in.
The holy grail of Bannockburn
Akarua's acquisition by Edmond de Rothschild came 10 years after the founding of Edmond de Rothschild's first New Zealand estate, Rimapere, in the Marlborough Valley, the country’s leading wine region renowned for its excellent Sauvignon Blanc. The vast majority of those 34.5 hectares purchased in 2022 are on Cairnmuir Road, ideally placed given its reputation as the holy grail of Bannockburn. Nestled in the foothills of the mountains and amid breathtaking scenery, the land here offers rare balanced conditions which are suited to producing very fine pinot noirs.
On gentle north-west facing slopes, the vineyard is exposed to the sun during the hottest hours of the day. The westerly wind that passes through it reduces the risk of plant disease and frost.
Aka (vine) - Rua (two)
In Māori, the name ‘Akarua’ means two grape varieties. Pinot noir and Chardonnay, the two varietals first planted on the estate in 1996 by Sir Clifford Skeggs. They now represent 78.5 % and 2% of the parcels respectively, and a small amount of pinot gris and riesling completes the offering. Drawing on the know-how of local teams and on its own international winemaking expertise, Edmond de Rothschild Heritage’s ambition is to optimise Akarua’s outstanding potential in order to produce the country’s finest pinot noir from a single estate, to create elegant wines and exceptional cuvées and to become the New Zealand benchmark in both domestic and international markets.
Central Otago has rapidly gained international market and media credibility for producing exceptional pinot noir. Pioneers in the 1980s such as Alan Brady at Gibbston, Vernon and Sue Burgess at Alexandra and Rolf and Lois Mills in Wanaka, began producing serious wines under the most challenging circumstances, activating a surge of enthusiasm and investment in the industry over the next two decades and beyond.
Ariane de Rothschild
Kurt Robinson, Viticulturist
Ariane de Rothschild and Anne Escalle