Our Story

Our Story

Nestled on the 45th parallel

Rockburn takes its name from the rugged, rock-strewn, burn-scarred landscape of Central Otago. The region is renowned for its stunning scenery of rugged mountains and picturesque lakes.

We produce premium wines of intense varietal characteristics in Central Otago, the world’s most southerly grape-growing region. Central Otago, at 45º south, has a climate similar to Burgundy, France, the great Pinot Noir producing region of the world.

All our wines exhibit strong varietal characteristics, highlighted in the white varieties by crisp acids, which are typical of the region. It has also become apparent that like Burgundy there are distinct ‘appellations’ within Central Otago. One has only to taste a Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir to experience its perfumed nose, typically violets, and earthy, forest floor sensations on the palate.

Compare this with a Lowburn/Bannockburn Pinot Noir with its darker colour and fuller, sweeter fruit. For this reason, to fully exploit the potential of the region, it is a distinct advantage to have vineyards in different ‘appellations’.


  • 1991 3ha 'hobby' block vineyard established by Richard Bunton at Lake Hayes near Arrowtown.
  • 1992 The venture expanded to include a 9ha vineyard development in Gibbston Valley.
  • 1999 Hay's Lake purchased and established a 33ha vineyard block at Parkburn on the shores of Lake Dunstan.
  • 2002 Hay's Lake was rebranded to Rockburn Central Otago. With the increase in size, it was thought that the brand name should more truly reflect the terroir of the vineyards.
  • 2005 Malcolm Rees-Francis joined Rockburn as the new Winemaker, formerly Assistant Winemaker at Felton Road.
  • 2006 Winery-cellar door complex opened at McNulty Road in Cromwell.
  • 2015 A new winery complex at Ripponvale Road in Cromwell was purchased to keep up with increasing demand in New Zealand as well as overseas.

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