Vintage Notes

Climate in Bannockburn

It is often said that winemaking in Central Otago is living life on the edge. This is true geographically, and, most scarily, climatically. With a true continental climate of four seasons, very low humidity, long summer droughts, and deep winter snows, it is the southern position of Bannockburn with its long daylight hours, combined with the lack of moisture (and hence lack of disease), that allows the grapes to reach their full potential.

The microclimate where the estate is sited, on the Western end of Felton Road, is sheltered by high ranges on 2 sides and the river on a third. This corner of Felton Road is consistently warmer than the rest of the region, and despite increasingly random frosts in the larger region, the estate has been largely frost free for over a decade. Some of this is attributable to the slopes and terraces on the vineyard which push the cold air down to the river; some is due to the warmth from the moving water, and some to the full north facing exposure which ensures maximum sunlight exposure during both spring and fall.

Key vintage attributes for the wines on release are as follows:


A true cool climate vintage. Sites like our estate which capture long sunshine hours seem to come into their own in vintages like the 2009. Spring was normal, and there was a classic fruit set. Summer however, was cool, and February was quite wet. March and April saw a return to the hot, dry conditions Bannockburn delivers, with picking commencing on 1 April. The diurnal range (swing in temperature between day [warm] and night [cold]), was exceptional in 2009 preserving beautiful natural acidity and crafting wines of great focus.

The Terra Sancta Pinot Noirs of 2009 are characterised in particular by purity of fruit, poise, and silky tannins. 


After a cool winter, spring also had its fair share of the cold, with some frosts. The Sancta vineyard has yet to experience any frost damage, and rode these 2010 frost out as well. January was also cool, with February and March very dry and warm. A not atypical year in Bannockurn.

The berries had thicker skins than usual, and phenolic ripeness was achieved at lower sugars, with memorable concentration resulting especially in the Pinot Noir.

The Terra Sancta Pinot Noirs of 2010 are characterized in particular by depth, generosity and concentration. 

The Terra Sancta range of 2010 white wines, and the Rielsings in particular, are notable for their restraint and minerality. 


This vintage displayed multiple personalities, much like Pinot Noir itself. A reasonably warm end to winter led to an exceptionally hot and dry spring. A successful flowering led to robust crops and the potential for an early start to vintage. But then came December...when the temperature dropped and the weather was manic, fluctuating from rain to wind to the odd nice spell. The temperature drop slowed down the ripening and harvest started as normal on 1st April. The weather during harvest was again virtuous reminding us all why we love Bannockburn. Pinots from this vintage show a beautiful elegance with lots of floral notes and spice. Perhaps not as concentrated as the preceding 2 vintages, Terra Sancta’s ‘11 Pinot Noir range more than makes up for it with exceptional poise. The Pinot Gris and Rieslings display amazing concentration laced with memorable minerality.

The 2011 Pinot Noirs are distinguished by the elegance and spice of the fruit, and the structure of the tannins. 

The Terra Sancta range of 2011 white wines, across the Rielsings and the Pinot Gris have in common aromatic intensity, and fruit perfectly balanced between sugar and acid levels. 


While the wines are not yet in....this was a truly unique vintage, from the late November snow, to the true summer drought, to the two weeks of non-stop February rain, to the intense late ripening heat, and a very late picking season. While the same numbers can come up twice for is not something to bet on. We feel this way about 2012. An unpredictable harvest, but, by some luck, this combination of factors has created very special fruit. While we have to wait and see...we can’t wait, for both Pinot Noir, and our whites, especially the Chardonnay, which we have hunch about like a kid prodding and poking his Christmas present under the tree.