The Wet Jacket story is a great one all about place, land and history and while there’s a bit about it on their website, we wanted to hear more. Here’s what they told us.
Tell us about Wet Jacket.
I suppose we should start with the things that we value! It all comes from a foundation of Greg’s (our owner) passion and what he wanted his last, and final wine venture to be – this is the only time it has been solely of his voice and desires.
Wet Jacket (the wine, the story the man) is really about five things: adventure, serenity, nurture and nourishment, good humour and a love of people.
Greg and Pete look after everything vineyard and winemaking – as a tight team they have come full circle form the Peregrine days to make wine together again. Greg actually said to Pete before Wet Jacket started, “Hey Pete, I’ve got this idea for a solo project and I want you to make my wine…otherwise I’m not doing it.” Pete said yes.
Wet Jacket is Greg Hay, Pete Bartle, me (Ali Vidoni) and a stellar crew who participate in EVERYTHING – no one says no to any job and we often laugh about what that can entail – when you’re a small team, it’s about hard work and laughter!
Greg has been in the Central Otago (CO) industry since it’s inception. When he started Chard Farm with his family back in the day they were the second commercial winery in the region and Greg has seen the evolution of the wine industry here, from a farming perspective, warts and all! He often talks about planting two hectares of vines at Chard and essentially doubling the size of the industry overnight.
Wet Jacket does the usual CO styles: pinot noir, pinot gris, chardonnay, rosé, riesling and sauvignon blanc – with a little gewurz and a sticky sav for fun – we like to keep it light!
All our wines are Cromwell Basin primarily Pisa Lowburn sub region – a majority of vines are single vineyard with Greg having planted or looked after the vineyards in his time.
We have a winery dog, his name is Dusky – rather apt we think!
Ultimately, Wet Jacket, as you can see, is about the stories – the history of Central Otago, the wines, the land and the history of European NZ – there are many Kiwi’s who don’t even know where Wet Jacket is or its significance to our history now – that stuff is on the website hehe.
What we are proud of is creating a place to learn and discover all of those stories and some tall tales while sipping delicious wines.
Do you have a winery or cellar door we can visit?
We do have a cellar door but it’s not near the wines – as some bright spark once said “no one falls in love with stainless steel tanks”.
Our cellar door is a 180-year-old woolshed that was a collective farming shearing shed until about 25 years ago. That type of farming is the history of CO before the vines and stone fruit trees and cherry trees, and has been the greatest contributor to the way the land is today – having our cellar door in a woolshed is mark of respect to the land users before us (animals and people alike) and a brilliant place to tell our stories – plus it’s like a tardis – it’s not what it appears from the outside that’s for sure!
We have a cheese maturation room at the front which stocks exclusively Whitestone Cheese – both an icon of NZ and also a fun fact… Whitestone is older than the entire CO wine industry – yep!
During summer we host food trucks outside and create a wee nirvana of pleasure with bean bags, umbrellas and amazing spaces under our two massively huge and massively old willows.
We do charge for tastings and don’t take bookings for groups of over 6 people – we are small but fun! One of our mottos – stay small, have fun, over deliver!
What style do you think characterises the pinot of your region?
Bold and rich and unafraid. It was once said that there are two things that pinot noirs from Central Otago do not need to worry about, and that’s colour and tannin. This is especially true of our subregion (Lowburn). Our vineyard delivers deep, rich style pinots that are shockingly perfumed (in the best way) and ultimately it’s wine that lingers for more then just moments.
Tell us three things we need to know about your region?
We think there are three key things that make Central Otago so special:
- The People – Unique, fun characters that mostly come from the land or deeply understand it.
- The Stories and History – The hilarity in the challenge of starting the wine industry in Central Otago, the good ideas and bad ideas, only we can’t give you all the juicy details till you have visited and kicked over a few rocks to see what lies underneath.
- The Landscape – Breathtakingly beautiful landscapes that are every much a part of the people the stories and the wines.
What’s the one thing we must do in your region?
Visit Wet Jacket Wines…. 🙂
Seriously what shouldn’t you do? After visiting Arrowtown and having a local craft beer at the Fork and Tap you grab a bike and follow the trail via the Kawarau Bungy out to Gibbston – and if you can do it in Autumn even better! The colours, the calm warm days and cool nights is just perfection and our favourite time of the year!
If not you, who else should people try?
Brennan, Mt Edward, Valli, Mt Difficulty, Carrick, Rippon, Felton Rd, Chard Farm……Can we list everyone
Where do you pinot?
In Wet Jacket Arm – in any weather condition at any time of the day – there is nothing in this world like it, we can assure you!
If your pinot was a music artist, who would it be?
What song should we listen to when driving to the winery?
What song should we listen to when driving away and onto the next one?
Where can we buy your wine?
We have a strict ‘no retail’ policy – no supermarkets, no bottle shops, not even a specialty wine store. You can buy our wines directly from us at the cellar door and we ship globally direct to your door.
It works for us – we only make about 3500 cases a year across the range, so we can’t spread ourselves too far.
We are also in a few key restaurants around New Zealand – mainly just those of our friends and like-minded people.
We also have a wine club – The Providores.