The modern concept of ‘paddock to plate’ has cemented a link between origin, process and quality. Now, more than ever, consumers demand greater production transparency. Until now, the wine industry has responded with bio-dynamic and organic wines more readily available.

Unsatisfied by the status-quo, Central Otago wine producer, Mount Michael Wines is increasing production transparency by offering consumers the opportunity to experience the wine journey from fruit selection to eventual release.

From March 2018, an allocation of five barrels has been made available to create a personalised blend of Pinot Noir.

Mount Michael will handle the intensive business of harvesting, crushing, ageing, barrel-racking and shipping, while barrel buyers will be exposed to the full extent of winemaking in the curation of their own custom blend of the Mount Michael 2018 vintage.

Mount Michael Wines has a 20-year history and under the guidance of winemaker James McElrea, the wine company is planning to share more than just the finished product from March 2018.

Proprietor Anna Robbie purchased the business in 2015, and since then she has observed the barrier between wine education and consumption.

“It has been an incredibly steep learning curve for my own knowledge of the winemaking industry,” Robbie explained. She describes this service as taking more people on an exclusive journey providing rare insight into the complexity and nuance of winemaking.

Great Pinot Noir isn’t released or enjoyed overnight and whilst Barrel Buyers will need to wait for a minimum of 14 months to enjoy the fruits of their investment, they will be provided with current vintage wines along the journey and private barrel tastings with winemaker James McElrea, to monitor and contribute the progress of their Pinot.

Leaving nothing to chance, Mount Michael has secured temperature controlled storage for the Barrel Buyers wine once it is bottled for up to three years, to ensure it is stored to maturity in the best possible conditions.

There are two options available; ‘The Enthusiast’ is a one-year vintage journey, or ‘The Committed’ is for consumers that want the full three-year view of the process and take ownership of the barrel as it reaches maturity.

“Similar offerings have been available in America and France for some time, however this is a first for New Zealand,” Robbie said of the initiative. “My hope is that we create a wine experience second to none,” she adds.

Applications close January 2018.