Cornish Point - 7.6 Hectares

History & Location

Cornish Point is an old gold miners settlement located adjacent to the Hartley and Reilly diggings where the first large find of gold was made in the Central Otago gold rush. It was named after the Cornish gold miners who lived there and was abandoned in the late 19th century until planted as an apricot orchard in the mid 20th century.  We planted it to vines in 2000.  The vineyard is bordered on one side by the Clutha River and on the other by the Kawarau (now both flooded at this point to form Lake Dunstan) and is unique in being almost totally surrounded by water. 

The vineyard is adjacent to the entrance of the Cromwell Gorge resulting in steady airstreams which, with the proximity to the lake, help minimise frost damage.  Additional spring frost protection is provided by a flipper vine row sprinkler system for when temperatures really plummet.  Although the edges of Cornish Point were eroded by sluicing or other digging, the vineyard itself is undisturbed soils.


The soils are classed as Manuherikia soils: moderately deep fine sandy loams.  They are of windblown origin (loess soils) lying on bands of river gravel and older silts which would date from the retreat of the glaciers up the Cromwell Valley over 20,000 years ago.  Deeper down there is clay and calcium carbonate speckles at the base of stones. The parent rock is schist. These soils are typical of the fine but heavy soils we look for when planting Pinot Noir.


The vineyard is planted in 18 different clone and rootstock combinations, separated into 25 Blocks. Rows are orientated to 345 degrees so the vines receive an extra hour of morning sun and one less of the hotter afternoon sun. A row width of 2.2m and vine spacing of 1.13m results in 4040 vines per hectare. The plants are on three rootstocks: 101.14, Riparia Gloire and 3309 as well as 8 Blocks planted to own roots. Clones of Pinot Noir are B114, B115, B667, B777, DRC Abel, AM10/5, UCD 5, and UCD 6. A small amount of D95 Chardonnay is planted. VSP canopy management is employed using a double Guyot cane prune. The viticulture is fully organic and biodynamic and Demeter certified.

Vineyard Characteristics

Fruit from Cornish Point is some of the first to ripen and is often the first pick of our harvest (though some blocks on the heaviest soils pick significantly later).  Cornish Point displays dense fruit, with surprising tannin for young vines, though the tannin is very fine and sometimes "dusty" rather than liquid. The bouquet is particularly intense from this vineyard: floral and spice notes predominating. Flavours are always in the dark end of the spectrum, with pronounced secondary notes rather than simple primary fruit.