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Misha’s Vineyard - Central Otago

Located in one of the leading new world wine producing countries

This month’s Pinot Noir Wine Club Series selection comes from one of the most spectacular wine growing sites in the world the dramatic lakefront terraces of Bendigo Station in the high country of New Zealand’s Central Otago region. Here, Misha’s Vineyard, even in its relatively short life span, has built a solid reputation as one of New Zealand’s top wine producers.

Misha’s Vineyard was founded by Misha and Andy Wilkinson in 2004 out of a desire to work together and create a new lifestyle doing what they’re most passionate about - wine!Misha and Andy had lived in Singapore for 16 years prior, both incredibly successful in their own right with high flying corporate careers. Misha was an international marketing specialist for a variety of companies including Intel and Dell Computer, while Andy held a remarkable 30+ year career in Information Technology. Although very successful, they found that the corporate world didn’t have a lot of return in terms of long term satisfaction, and they both yearned to get something more out of life.

In 2001, Misha and Andy followed their hearts, returned to Andy’s homeland in Central Otago, New Zealand, and began the foundation of creating Misha’s Vineyard. After nearly two years of visiting potential vineyard sites, the couple finally found what they had been looking for in Central Otago’s Bendigo Station. This land was steeped in history, officially named back in the late 1800s by Chinese immigrants who joined the Gold Rush in Central Otago, as many had in California, Australia, and elsewhere. The neatly stacked gold tailings in the gullies are the remnants of their alluvial mining and the crumbling remains of stone miners’ cottages are evidence of a tough existence. This rugged land, although part of an extreme environment, also showed great potential for growing world-class fruit. Misha and Andy hoped it would once again produce riches - the ‘new gold’ - in the form of Pinot Noir. Finding this perfect location on which to establish Misha’s Vineyard was the first milestone in their journey since the selection of a site is the single most important decision for any vineyard.

On November 8th, 2004, the Wilkinsons planted the first 25 acres of Misha’s Vineyard Pinot Noir. The following year, they planted an additional 30 acres (Pinot Noir, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc), and in 2007 another 10 acres - and they haven’t finished yet!

To make exceptional wines from Misha’s Vineyard’s new plantings, they needed an exceptional winemaker. Internationally renowned Oliver “Olly” Masters, after just one visit to the vineyard, joined the Misha’s Vineyard team with great enthusiasm. He crafted the first commercial Misha’s Vineyard vintage in 2008 - a Pinot Noir named ‘The High Note.’

Misha had grown up in Australia with a theatrical family and spent many years watching her mother sing opera. This influence, along with her own experience working in marketing roles for the Sydney Opera House and then later London’s Royal Opera House, prompted the theatrical names for each of Misha’s Vineyard’s wines. ‘The High Note’ Pinot Noir is a direct dedication to Misha’s mother, and a symbol of the winery’s high point - their best effort, and ultimately what the winery is all about. Other wine names in the portfolio include ‘Limelight,’ ‘The Starlet,’ and ‘Lyric.’

It’s also interesting to note how Misha and Andy have embraced the Chinese history of their Central Otago-Bendigo Station region. In Chinese culture, the number “8” is considered the luckiest of numbers, representing prosperity and good fortune, and Misha’s Vineyard continues to find the number 8 cropping up with uncanny regularity. The vineyard is located on State Highway 8, just 8 kilometers from the nearest town of Cromwell. On the vineyard, 8 clones of Pinot Noir have been planted in two row directions - 288° on the slopes and lakefront terrace, and 341° (adding up to 8) on the higher terraces. The first commercial vintage from Misha’s Vineyard was 2008 and there are 8 wines in the portfolio.

To celebrate this phenomenon and culture, the team placed a Chinese coin beneath their first 8 planted vines to symbolically return the ‘old gold’ to the ground and bring luck for the ‘new gold’ - Misha’s Pinot Noir.
Since Misha’s Vineyard’s initial release, the response from New Zealand and the world has been simply incredible. UK Decanter magazine has named Misha’s Vineyard One of New Zealand’s Top 20 Producers, and most of Misha’s Vineyard’s wines have garnered 90+ scores from international wine critics. To say this new family winery has been a success is a great understatement.

It is already a world-class winery that many internationally hope to emulate.

  1. Mishas
    2009 Pinot Noir
    High Note - New Zealand


    93 - Wine Master
    id: 1296
    Pinot Noir

Olly Masters - Winemaker

Internationally renowned winemaker Olly Masters is the winemaker for Misha’s Vineyard. Forging some of New Zealand’s most consistently fine Pinot Noir over the past decade, Olly has built a reputation as one of New Zealand’s leading winemakers and wine judges.

Olly began his winemaking career in Martinborough in 1989 and also spent time in Hawkes Bay and Burgundy before joining Ata Rangi Vineyard (Martinborough) in 1994 as a winemaker/viticulturist. During his time there, Ata Rangi was awarded the Champion Pinot Noir on three occasions at the prestigious International Wine and Spirit Competition in London. In addition to winemaking, Olly serves as a senior wine judge at New Zealand’s major national competitions and is also a regular panelist for Cuisine magazine.

Working at Misha’s Vineyard, Olly makes his Central Otago ‘debut’ and has already proven his undeniable winemaking talent, industry knowledge, and personal affinity for Pinot Noir. His goal at Misha’s Vineyard is to create a repertoire of elegant cool climate wines that match some of the more subtle and exotic food flavors of the world. He also strives to make wines that are authentic - speaking clearly about their origin.

About The Region

Most descriptions of Central Otago, New Zealand would leave you wondering why on earth people would plant grapes here. It’s the world’s most southerly and New Zealand’s highest wine growing region with extreme conditions to say the least. This is a place of extraordinary contrasts with craggy bare mountains, massive schist rock torrs, and gorges carved by raging rivers, but also spectacular glassy lakes, rolling green farmlands and deep valleys of orchards producing some of the country’s best stone fruits. It is also home to some of New Zealand’s finest Merino wool production. Although a challenging environment, Central Otago has become New Zealand’s fastest growing wine region with leading international wine critics raving about its wines.

Misha’s Vineyard is one of the warmest sites in the region, stretching from 680 to 1,200 feet above sea level on gently sloping terraces, with various soils and meso-climates, and poised just above Lake Dunstan. It is 100% certified sustainably farmed and has produced award-winning fruit since the inaugural harvest.

Braised Lamb Shoulder


1 lamb shoulder (3-5 lbs.), boned and tied Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3 Tbs. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 small onions, finely chopped
3 sprigs fresh rosemary finely chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme leaves finely chopped
1 pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 pinch of ground clove
1 bottle dry red wine
1 cup whole canned crushed plum tomatoes


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Season lamb all over with salt and pepper. Heat 2 Tbs. oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Add lamb shoulder, and cook, turning occasionally, until lamb is browned all over, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove lamb; set aside. Pour out an excess oil, and discard. Add remaining Tbs. oil and heat over medium-high heat. Stir in garlic, celery, carrot, onion, herbs, nutmeg, and cloves. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute.

Return lamb to Dutch oven. Add wine and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to the oven. Cook until fork-tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Remove from oven. Transfer lamb to a platter, and keep warm. Make sauce: Place the Dutch oven over low heat, and cook the liquid until it has reduced and thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove twine from lamb, and slice; serve with sauce.

Rosemary Rubbed Salmon with Roasted Potatoes & Parsnips


1 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh rosemary leaves
4 tsp. coarse kosher salt
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
6 Tbs. olive oil, divided
1 lb. red-skinned potatoes, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 lb. parsnips, peeled, cut into 3/4” pieces
1 3 3/4-pound whole side of salmon with skin
1 lb. crimini mushrooms,chopped
Assorted salad greens
1/3 cup Pinot Noir


Blend rosemary, salt, and pepper in processor until finely chopped.

With machine running, gradually add 4 Tbs. oil; process to coarse paste. Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 450 degrees. Toss potatoes, parsnips, 2 Tbs. oil, and 3 Tbs. rosemary mixture in large bowl. Transfer vegetable mixture to rimmed baking sheet, arranging in even layer. Roast vegetables on lower rack 20 min.

Line large rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Place salmon, skin side down, on sheet. Spread with remaining rosemary mixture. Toss mushrooms with vegetable mixture. Return vegetable mixture to lower rack; place salmon on upper rack. Roast salmon until just opaque in center and vegetables until tender, about 20 minutes.

Line platter with salad greens; place salmon on top of greens. Transfer vegetables to serving bowl. Place vegetable baking sheet over 2 burners on high heat. Add wine and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Drizzle juices over salmon.