One of our wonderful guides, Martin Kohn, gets interviewed by AA Traveller Magazine and spills the beans on what it is to be a guide for Appellation Wine Tours.
We delve into Central Otago’s wine scene with Appellation Wine Tour specialist, Martin Kohn. Also a talented photographer, Martin loves to share his enthusiasm for the region’s dramatic landscapes and fascinating history, as well as its illustrious wines.
Tell us a little about Appellation Wine Tours
Wine tours are all about discovering and enjoying something new. It doesn’t take an expert or a wine aficionado to have a great day out here. Appellation guides are wine lovers with an enthusiasm for the wines of Central Otago and the people and stories behind them. We just love giving people a great day out and sharing with them the wines, the history and people of the region.
What’s the most common piece of advice you give to novice wine drinkers?
The biggest piece of advice I give people when we’re heading out on tour is to remember wine is personal. It’s made for us to enjoy. You don’t have to distinguish your French from your American oak or be able to name 14 aromas in a red. All you need is an open mind and a willingness to experiment.
Which wineries do you visit on your tours?
We select a different group of wineries each day. Central Otago is a big region geographically, with a number of widely spaced sub-regions. We concentrate on the Gibbston Valley and the Cromwell Bannockburn Basin, which are the most accessible, giving people a mix of larger and smaller producers. What’s great is we are talking to the owners or people very close to the production process at the smaller wineries. If our guests have an interest in a particular producer,we are often happy to include them in the tour.
Do you offer private wine tours?
Appellation Wine Tours specialise in small group tours which make the experience relaxed and intimate. We find that people get along well and often meet new friends on a tour. If visitors want a more exclusive experience, we offer private tours where they can advise us of vineyard preferences, therefore allowing them to customise their day. It also opens opportunities to visit smaller, unique vineyards that cater for a maximum of two or four people at any given time.
What’s your favourite Central Otago wine and why?
It’s hard to pick a favourite wine in the region. Obviously, I love the variety of styles our signature pinots come in – from the elegant, savoury expressions from the Gibbston Valley, to the bold, layered, fruit-driven styles coming from hotter, dryer areas like Bendigo. The Rieslings here are a revelation, with their lively flavours, balanced acidity and minerality coming from the schist soils that define much of this region. At the moment, I’m really enjoying Josephine, a off-dry Riesling from Carrick Wines in Bannockburn.
What’s the most satisfying aspect of taking a wine tour?
Seeing reactions of people as they discover the qualities that make our wines so good. When someone who dislikes heavy, oaky chardonnay finds themselves enjoying our crisp fruity styles – when people who are dismissive of Rieslings and Rosé, find themselves shipping cases home, then I’m stoked. I’m also a photographer who loves the dramatic landscapes of our region. Sharing that passion and the short but incredible history also makes my day.