14th April, 2014 by Lucy Shaw
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge continued their tour of New Zealand this weekend with a visit to Amisfield Winery in Central Otago.
Based in Queenstown, the 200-hectare estate planted with 80 hectares of vines was founded in 1988 and specialises in Pinot Noir and aromatic whites made from grapes grown beneath the Pisa Mountain range in the Cromwell Basin.
Some 30 local wineries, including Burn Cottage, Felton Road, Mt Difficulty, Mud House, Profits Rock, Rippon and Two Paddocks, owned by actor Sam Neill, were chosen to present their wines at a tasting held at Amisfield.
Kate put pregnancy rumours to bed by sampling a range of wines during the tasting telling Amisfield’s owner, John Darby, that she was “really enjoying” being able to drink again after giving birth to Prince George.
“Kate really enjoyed the Pinot Noir and had six or seven tastes,” said Central Otago Pinot Noir chairwoman Lucie Lawrence, who escorted the Duchess around the estate.
“The eyes of the world will be on Central Otago this weekend. The region is a young wine growing area and to inform the world about our wines is an opportunity money can’t buy.
“We expect interest in the region to significantly increase following the royal visit,” Lawrence said ahead of the tasting, where the royal couple chatted with representatives from the different wineries.
Explaining the need to use helicopters to stir up the cold air and prevent frost from setting in during the winter, Prince William offered to give Amisfield’s owner, John Darby, a hand.
“That’s an expensive way to do it. If you ever need a spare pilot, I’m here,” he said.
The royal pair enjoyed a vineyard tour after the tasting to learn more about the winemaking process, before being given a few bottles of wine to take home.