Central Otago Region

As we continued south through New Zealand, one place we wanted to try to spend at least a day or two was the Central Otago region because of their wineries/vineyards, which are known particularly for their Pinot Noir. 

Vineyard AirBnB

Throughout our trip we have been mainly staying at AirBnBs which has allowed us to interact with some really cool people, including a husband and wife team who started their own vineyard in Wanaka, located about an hour north of Queenstown.

Aitken's Folly - Central Otego Region Winery - New Zealand
Aitken's Folly - Central Otego Region Winery - New Zealand
Aitken's Folly - Central Otego Region Winery - New Zealand
Aitken’s Folly Vineyard

As you drive up to their property, Aitken’s Folly Vineyard (https://aitkensfolly.com), you see rows of grapes in the fields lining the driveway, with snow capped mountains in the distance. As soon as we parked the car we were greeted by our four-legged hosts, Gordon and Freckles, two of the sweetest dogs you will ever meet. Shortly after, we were greeted by Ian and Fiona who helped us settle right into our accommodations. 

Aitken's Folly - Central Otego Region Winery - New Zealand
Aitken's Folly - Central Otego Region Winery - New Zealand
Shall we walk downstairs for a tasting?

There are definite advantages to staying at a vineyard. One, you have the most amazing views from your room; and two, you can walk out the door right to a tasting room. And that is exactly what we did the next day.

Ian and Fiona grow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which is something different for the area. Their first vintage was 2012 and we had the opportunity to taste a 2016 Chardonnay, 2015 Pinot Noir, 2013 Pinot Noir and a 2018 Rose. All were well-balanced and very good, but we particularly liked the 2013 Pinot Noir.

Aitken's Folly - Central Otego Region Winery - New Zealand
Aitken's Folly - Central Otego Region Winery - New Zealand
Who makes the wine?

The grapes from Aitken’s Folly go over to their neighbors, Maude Winery, for processing. Fiona and Ian are very proud of their grapes and resulting wines, with the dream of eventually producing some sparkling varieties.

Aitken's Folly - Central Otego Region Winery - New Zealand

Life Reset Chat

During our tasting (and several hours of further discussion) we learned more about Aitken’s Folly Vineyard, as well as the background story of how and why this vineyard came to be. Come to find out, Fiona and Ian had their own life reset. 

Both Fiona and Ian were living in the UK, working in the oil industry when they first discussed a change in lifestyle to better serve their family’s needs. With a deep interest in wine and growing grapes, combined with their background in geology, having their own vineyard someday was something that really appealed to them.

But why move all the way to New Zealand?

As Fiona put it, “We knew we had to move far away for us to really stick with the change. If we stayed in the UK, it would have been way to easy to get sucked back into our past work. We also wanted to find a place that was good for growing grapes (which is not the UK) but also fairly new to the wine scene.”

They had been to New Zealand a few times but never stepped foot in Wanaka until they moved in 2009. “People definitely thought we were crazy, but this is what we felt we needed to do.”

Aitken's Folly - Central Otego Region Winery - New Zealand
Great Insights From Experienced Life Resetters

When we told them about our trip and how we are using this time to step out of our careers of twenty years to figure out what we want to do after our year of travel, both Ian and Fiona had some great insight. 

One thing they said was if you find you need to work more you can always do that. They had a situation where they needed a frost fan for the vineyard. Finding that it was going to cost much more than they had anticipated, Ian went back to work as a geologist for a while to save up the money. Once they had enough he stopped working again. So basically, don’t sweat it. Don’t let fear of hard times stop you from doing something different. There are always ways to make ends meet. 

Another statement Fiona said that really struck us was, “Where do you want to make your daily memories?” For some people they want to make their memories at work, others it is with their family, through their hobbies, traveling, etc. “When you are older, what are the memories you want to think of when looking back on your life?” Wow, that’s certainly something to ponder over.

Aitken's Folly - Central Otego Region Winery - New Zealand

It has been really great talking to people along our journey who have done their own life resets, and as we go along we are realizing just how many other people have done it. For Ian and Fiona, it was quitting their careers, moving to a new country and making something they had already been passionate and interested in their new jobs and new way of life.

Do you have any thoughts to share about hitting the life reset button? Please post below or contact us directly!