If you hadn’t seen the location in the title of this post, from just looking at the above photo where would you guess this winery is located? California or Spain would be my first guesses, but just glancing at the landscape I wouldn’t guess New Zealand. Unless you’re fortunate enough to live there you probably think of New Zealand as a land of sheep herding and the place where Lord of the Rings was filmed. Mostly Lord of the Rings. But the truth is that New Zealand is a great wine producer, and this winery, Two Paddocks, has an interesting provenance.
Two Paddocks was founded by actor Sam Neill, who you may remember from blockbuster movies like Jurassic Park and The Hunt for Red October. A dedicated oenophile, Neill founded this winery in 1993, starting with pinot noir. Indeed Two Paddocks is one of the premium places where pinot noir is grown in the Southern Hemisphere. Mr. Neill’s first pinot emerged in 1997 and was much better than he anticipated. By 1999 Two Paddocks was producing world-class pinots. By the way, the second paddock referred to in the name “Two Paddocks” is owned by another New Zealand-born film celebrity, director Roger Donaldson, who directed The Bounty in 1984 starring Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson.
In addition to its pinots, Two Paddocks also makes a very good Riesling. If I ever went to New Zealand–which I would love to do–I could imagine sitting on a verandah somewhere overlooking a stunning landscape and enjoying a glass of Riesling, and perhaps humming the Lord of the Rings theme.