The inspiration for Cromwell’s first ever walking wine trail came from Keeley Gillan, who joined us in the Misha’s Vineyard Tasting Room when it first opened. We opened at the tail end of summer so things were quiet initially so Keeley used the downtime to think about ways to promote our new Tasting Room. Keeley also realised that our town of Cromwell now had 4 tasting rooms in close proximity and a potential route that would enable people to walk on a lakeside track, through vines and orchards and capture some amazing scenery along the way! It certainly sounded like a great idea right from the outset – being both a social activity for locals and visitors and with the justification that it would also be a healthy and physical endeavour! Keeley’s proposal was circulated to our neighbouring tasting rooms who agreed right away so the project kick off and the work started!
Initial discussions were around how we could get a really cool map drawn of the trail. We decided to use social media and created a ‘Design for Wine’ offer hoping we would attract someone from the local area with some artistic talents. The winning design came from South American artists Marcelilla Pilla and Leandro Baud, who now live in New Zealand and had been based in nearby Wanaka. In fact we loved their map design so much that we then commissioned them to complete the whole brochure for us. We included a passport page on the brochure so we could encourage walkers to complete the entire trail visiting all four tasting rooms to gain a stamp from each, which allows them to enter the quarterly draw to win a mixed case of wine from the participating wineries.
The 4 Barrels Walking Wine Trail is a self-paced 8-kilometre loop which takes you to Misha’s Vineyard, Aurum Wines, Scott Base and Wooing Tree Vineyard, as well as capturing some wonderful scenery through orchards and around Lake Dunstan. The actual walking time is about 90 minutes and you can complete the whole trail in about 3.5 hours assuming just a 30-minute stop at each winery, but we have found that people are generally taking longer than this as there are food options at three of the Tasting Rooms so walkers are enjoying ‘small bites’ along the way or stopping at one of the Tasting Rooms for lunch. There is also the option to bring one’s own picnic lunch and find a good place to stop and enjoy the scenery.
Together the four Tasting Rooms offer a diverse range of wines that really showcases the incredible depth and diversity of this region. As well as being able to taste Central Otago’s famous pinot noir, wine selections include pinot gris, rosé, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, gewürztraminer, riesling, sparkling and dessert style wines, port, and even a beer option at one of the Tasting Rooms. Having four Tasting Rooms in Cromwell is a relatively new thing that’s been made possible by the increasing number of tourists in the region. Cromwell was also named the fastest growing small town in New Zealand recently. And it seems that visiting wineries is high on people’s activity lists with some 24% of tourists expecting to take part in a wine experience.
We launched the 4 Barrels Walking Wine Trail at the Misha’s Vineyard Tasting room on the evening before the first day of spring and invited local media, local accommodation owners and everyone that had helped us along the way. As a result of the launch we have had a lot of publicity about the trail – in fact we have been front page news with a couple of publications! And from what we hear there are many people planning to walk the trail over the summer.
Feedback on the walking trail from some of the groups that have completed it has been very positive. The brochure of the 4 Barrels Walking Wine Trail is a map that also has some instructions, but we have found some of the walking groups have just used the maps and not read the instructions – typically it’s the men who like to just follow the map! But we are now putting markers on the trail to make it even easier to know which way to go! These will be in place in the next couple of weeks. And it looks like we might also need to do a 2nd reprint of the maps so we don’t run out over summer.