Central Otago , New Zealand
See Olssens wines we sell
Olssens is nestled amongst the dry thyme covered hills of Bannockburn, where the essence of nature is captured by vines deeply rooted in the rocky, gold-bearing schist soils. We produce a range of 13 different wines, many of which are sold exclusively to cellar door visitors and mail order customers.
How we came to Bannockburn
Olssens of Bannockburn is owned and operated by the husband and wife team of John Olssen and Heather McPherson. Heather was brought up in Central, on Mt Pisa Station and then in Cromwell itself, and John (from Dunedin) spent summer breaks with his family in various places around Central, and then picked fruit at Earnscleugh during school holidays.
So, Central is in our blood, and having travelled around New Zealand and the world, we always wanted to come back, because we love the climate in all of its seasons, and the dramatic ruggedness, peace and isolation of the landscape. A love of the land, of Central Otago, and of wine has shaped our thinking; and careful research - along with some very hard work, has enabled us to pursue a dream and see the beginnings of its realisation.
We are creating a centre of excellence focused on wine tourism, and are dedicated to offering our visitors enjoyable experiences, supported by quality and service.
John Olssen is a forester by profession, of latter years a business management consultant, and now involved in the management of the business on a full time basis.
Heather McPherson is a registered nurse, latterly managing various community health organisations, but since 1997 has been responsible for the management of the business and wine marketing for Olssens of Bannockburn.
Karen Olssen joined the team as our viticulturist in 1996, returning from Australia and adding viticulture and oenology to her BSc. Karen proudly displays two "Mike Wolter Trophies" for production of the country's best Pinot Noir grapes at both the 1999 and 2000 national Bragato conferences.
Matthew (Matt) Connell came home from Oregon to join Olssens in early 2005. He brings strong qualifications, including an undergraduate degree in Parks & Recreation Management (majoring in tourism) and a postgraduate degree in Oenology and Viticulture from Lincoln University. He came to Olssens from Elk Cove Wines in Oregon and Passage Rock Winery on Waiheke Island plus vintages in other places and extensive experience in the hospitality industry.
The team also includes Jennie Nicol as our sales outlet manager and many of you will have seen her smiling face or listened to her cheerful voice when visiting or ordering wine. In the vineyard we have Annie Owens, Euan Nicol, Merryl Leckner and Tony Day providing the corner stone of the production of top quality grapes.
Established in 1989, Olssen's Garden Vineyard is the pioneer vineyard of Bannockburn and the Cromwell Basin. Owners John Olssen and Heather McPherson engaged a landscape architect to work with the viticultural specialists to plan the vineyard.
Planning was followed by earthworks and the establishment of some 8,500 trees and shrubs and 6,000 bulbs. Spring in the vineyard is a sight to behold, but Autumn too has its own magic, offering to envelop visitors in a shimmering blaze of russet and gold colour.
Olssen's established their own winery for the 2001 vintage, crushing some 75 tonnes of their own fruit and making wine for a small number of other producers. The winery capacity is some 200 tonnes. The barrel room and the finished wine store are fully temperature controlled, as are all the fermenters and tanks within the winery.
Oak used is sourced exclusively from France with the exception of a few American barrels for maturation of the Robert the Bruce (Pinotage/Cabernet/Shiraz) blend. All wines are made from 100% estate grown fruit, and production is some 5,000 cases p.a.
The Central Otago climate is as "continental" as one can get in New Zealand. Bannockburn is tucked into the foothills of the Carrick Range, which sits in the rainshadow of the Alps.
Annual rainfall is some 320 mm and in very hot years January temperatures can reach the low to mid 40's Celsius. It is hot and dry, but the diurnal (day/night) range can be great, which is excellent for the development of flavours in the ripening grapes.
In winter it can also be cold. Frosts are the norm and they can get well below minus 10 degrees, the ponds will often have several centimetres of ice on them through mid winter and occasionally several centimetres of snow will lie on the vineyard, which all goes to help clean up the environment.