It sounds more like an interesting piece of earth than a winery but therein lies the beauty of the evocatively named Coal Pit Wines in Gibbston Valley, one of Otago’s coolest grape growing sub regions – and today it announced a new winemaker – Anika Willner.
The Coal Pit name comes from an historic area in nearby mountain ranges, which provided early pioneers, musterers and gold miners with coal. Many of Central Otago’s best wine brands are named after striking nearby landmarks, such as Chard Farm’s Judge and Jury Chardonnay, to name one of many examples.
Willner will be joined by winemaker Olly Masters, the man in charge of defining wine style and quality at Misha’s Vineyard and formerly of Ata Rangi fame. Masters is one of New Zealand’s most highly respected winemakers and he will work as a consultant to Coal Pit.
Willner is a graduate of Ohio State University and was part of the Coal Pit winemaking team for the 2018 vintage. She also has winemaking experience in Oregon, Australia, Germany, South Africa as well as New Zealand.
“We are thrilled at these additions to our Coal Pit team… We have been focussed on improving the vineyard since we purchased in 2001 and have made wine on-site since 2007 to ensure maximum quality from vine through to bottle,” says winery owner Rosie Dunphy, who produces Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc for domestic and international markets from her 12 hectare vineyard.
The name Tiwha (the brand name of the winery’s Pinot Noir) is a Maori name, which pays tribute to Rosie’s late father and to her family heritage.