Two Paddocks is a small family wine producing business that is entirely dedicated to making great wine.

We started in 1993 with modest ambitions and first planted five acres of Pinot Noir at our original little vineyard at Gibbston, Central Otago in the deep south of New Zealand. At the same time, our friend Roger Donaldson planted the land next door, hence the name Two Paddocks. (Roger’s paddock proved to be a slow starter, which meant we had to go it on our own; however we kept the title. His brand, Sleeping Dogs, takes its name from the first film we made together.)

I wanted to produce a good Pinot Noir that would, at the very least, be enjoyed by my family and friends. Frankly, my friends will pretty much drink anything, so this didn't seem too hard. To our great surprise, our first vintage in 1997 was much better than we hoped, in spite of a difficult growing season. 1998 was a more distinguished vintage, and in 1999 we were astounded to produce a Pinot that was, we thought, world class. Here was a  [Two Paddocks Pinot Noir] wine of considerable complexity with an amazing nose, delicious fruit and a good lengthy finish (from clones 10/5 and 5). So rewarding has this vineyard been over the years (and so unpromising as a sheep paddock) that we planted another 5 acres of Burgundian clones there in 2008 bringing the total acreage at Gibbston to 5 hectares.

Since that original release in 1999, with each successive year we have produced a Pinot Noir (sometimes 3 or 4 Pinot Noirs) that have done us proud and are, to be frank, too good to be wasted on our friends. They still somehow manage to bludge a lot off us, and that, combined with the proprietor's generous thirst, accounts for the occasional scarcity of Two Paddocks Pinot. In short, we have become outrageously ambitious – we want to produce year after year, the world’s best Pinot Noir.

Our original vineyard has now been augmented by two other small, superbly sited vineyards in the Alexandra district. Alex Paddocks is a 7-acre vineyard on a very beautiful terrace above the Earnscleugh Valley, and sits under some very striking rocky headlands. We planted it with Burgundian Pinot vines (5, 6, 115) in 1998. Two Paddocks "The Last Chance" Pinot Noir is from this single vineyard (first vintage 2002). "The Last Chance" name comes from an old gold miners watercourse that runs through the yard, dating from the 1860s.

In 2000 we acquired Red Bank, a lovely 130 acre small farm nestled between two dramatic rocky escarpments. It has become our main vineyard, and we call it rather grandly Headquarters, since we have our offices, staff quarters, and a splendid tasting room as well there. We have planted more Burgundian pinot clones there (777, 667 and 115 primarily), and the pinot from this, our biggest vineyard, usually forms the backbone of our premium “Two Paddocks Pinot Noir”, a wine to die for year after year (NOTE: Management prefer you not to die for our wine, as we enjoy your custom year after year). We also grow our Riesling here.

Red Bank is, incidentally, more than a vineyard however. It was some years ago, a research station for Crop & Food and we maintain, to this day, many of the medicinal and culinary herbs that were planted then (including lavender, saffron, Echinacea as well as apricots, cherries, apples, pears truffles etc).

We are firm believers in the "terroir" of Central Otago. It is not only my favourite corner of the world, we now know that it has the right climate and soils to produce world-class Pinot Noirs. But of course the other side to winemaking are the people involved — we take particular pride in the slightly disreputable bunch here at Two Paddocks Headquarters (see Our Team). It is their unlikely genius combined with God's own country — Central — that produces our (we think) amazing Pinots.

We are also dedicated to producing sustainable, ecologically sound wine. In 2008, after years of toil we attained full organic status for Red Bank and our Last Chance Paddock. As part of various personnel changes in the vineyard and certain economic realities we have slightly  backed away from a totally organic approach, in that we are for the time being, using a limited amount of herbicide for weed control in the vineyard, but we do not use pesticides or fungicides. We are by no means wide eyed zealots, but we do believe in healthy compost enriched soil, and good healthy wine. We also subscribe to the view that red wine (in moderation) is good for you, and that it should not only be of superlative quality but the healthiest wine possible.

Our Pinots are released according to how our three vineyards fare each vintage but each year we produce:

Two Paddocks Pinot Noir -- This is our top pinot, selected from the best grapes from all of our 3 vineyards,

Picnic Pinot Noir by Two Paddocks -- This is our more affordable pinot, although by any measure still outstanding. We may in some years augment our own grapes with some from other Central Otago growers.

In certain years we may elect to produce single vineyard pinots if we think one of our vineyards has outdone itself. So in certain years you may find:

Two Paddocks The Last Chance Pinot Noir -- This is from our Last Chance vineyard in Alexandra. If we decide on a single vineyard bottling here it will be extraordinary. (If you have a 2002 for instance in your cellar, you might want to hold it, while it becomes even more extraordinary).

Two Paddocks First Paddock Pinot Noir -- This is our occasional single vineyard premium Pinot Noir from our first vineyard at Gibbston. We never imagined this possible, but more years than not, we make one from there. It is easily identified as the label always features a flower of some kind – a flower that has personal meaning for us, and always has a Central Otago connection. It may grow wild in the area, or come from my own garden, but it’s always a somewhat humble flower.

Picnic Riesling -- This is grown at our Red Bank vineyard, and like all our Picnic wines, it is not only delicious but surprisingly good value for money.

Two Paddocks wines are always in short supply, since our vineyards are by any standard small. However we do set aside a proportion of our output for export. So now a fortunate few in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Australia, Singapore, and Hong Kong can find Two Paddocks. If they look hard…

Things are constantly on the move at dynamic Two Paddocks. Reports come in regularly by jungle drum from all over the world. To keep on top of all the information that's fit to print, be sure to visit our TP Blog section.

Our tasting room is now open on a limited basis -- contact our manager, Jacqui, if she or one of her team is available (she's very busy) they will open up for you, if you wish to buy from the source at Red Bank. If we're available, you are very welcome.

We hope and trust that you will enjoy Two Paddocks wine, as much as we enjoy making it. We certainly enjoy drinking it, which makes it a little scarcer than perhaps it might be otherwise. But good luck in finding Two Paddocks anyway!

Sam Neill

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