A single vineyard dedicated to pinot noir

The land

Total area 10.85 hectares
Area in vines 7.8 hectares
  • Earnscleugh Road frontage: 350 metres
  • road to top of slope: 300 metres
Geo location 45˚ 15' 13" South, 169˚ 21' 36" East (-45.25350, 169.35987)

Altitude 158-173 metres above sea level
Slope from front to back 2 degrees
Rainfall 300 mm average
Vineyard weather station Harvest.com
Vineyard weather forecast Windy.com

Why we chose this land

Grand Cru sites only exist because of the determination of people to achieve great things. Our reason to plant vines was simply to grow great pinot noir. An uncompromising search for the right land led us to a small hill at Alexandra in Central Otago.

Cool climates produce the most exciting pinot noir and Central Otago has proved to be one of the few places in the world that can consistently produce some of the finest examples of wine from this difficult grape.

Central Otago has a number of sub-regions, each characterised by its mix of temperature profile, rainfall and soils. Some areas are hotter, some cooler and some wetter, drier or windier but generally all have free draining and mostly young soils derived from Schist ,an ancient metamorphic rock.

The land we searched for had to be warm enough to consistently ripen pinot noir grapes. It had to be cool enough to slow ripening down but not too cool. It had to have high sunshine hours and low rainfall. North facing slopes are the warmest and most sheltered sites within a cool climate. There needs to be tension between hot and cold, so that pinot noir can ripen slowly and show a true and exciting expression of the site.

Alexandra is the sub-region that excited us most. This is the southernmost sub-region in Central Otago, which also makes it the world's southernmost pinot noir winegrowing sub-region. Further to the east, away from the Southern Alps, than other sub-regions, makes this the driest sub-region. Low rainfall is ideal for ripening pinot noir, but it does mean irrigation on the lighter soils is essential.

The Alexandra sub-region is a large basin and its topography and location deliver both the highest and lowest temperatures in Central Otago, with extreme fluctuations never more evident than during summer and autumn, when the grapes are ripening.

On the south side of the basin, across the Clutha River from Alexandra township, are the warm north facing slopes, where you will find Grasshopper Rock on Earnscleugh Road.

The land was originally part of a larger parcel known since the 1860s as Como Villa and has European history that dates back to the 1860s gold rush and the early establishment of grape vines in the 1870s. An old gold mining water race now brings water from the surrounding hills for irrigation and frost fighting.

The vines

Planting dates 38,000 vines, planting completed 8th October 2003
Source of vines Corbans Viticulture (Whenuapai nursery)
Clones 667, 777, 114, 115, Clone 5, Abel
Root stocks 3309, Richter 110, 101-14
Spacings Vine spacings are closer than average for Central Otago. Rows at 2.2 metres and vines spaced at 1.0 metre in most of vineyard and some at 0.78 metres.
Layout Blocks 1 & 2 are on the upper slope, Blocks 3 & 4 at the foot of the slope on heavier soils and Blocks 5 & 6 are beside the road on lighter, stonier soils.
Training In winter vines are pruned back to a single cane per vine. Spring growth is trained to the vertical shoot position system (VSP)
Hand tendered The vines are intensively managed by hand to achieve perfectly ripe fruit for winemaking. Harvest is by hand with only the best fruit going to the winery.
Sustainability We are an Accredited Sustainable Winegrower, an initiative of New Zealand Winegrowers. Sustainability is the capacity to endure; it is how biological systems remain diverse and productive indefinitely.


Located in Earnscleugh, Grasshopper Rock is on the south side of the Alexandra basin across the Clutha River from the town of Alexandra, Central Otago, New Zealand.

The vineyard is on warm north facing slopes.

The name

The vineyard takes it name from a rare grasshopper, Sigaus childi, which is found only in Central Otago, and predominantly on the Earnscleugh gold tailings, which lie along the Clutha River, across the road from the vineyard. We can't claim to have made the acquaintance of the grasshopper, yet, but we felt that the name had a certain distinctive ring about it.
And the Rock alludes to the gold that is no longer in the tailings, and probably never was. The new gold is wine and we hope that you will find a little bit of gold in the pleasure you get from Grasshopper Rock.

Vintage summaries

2022 was the most enjoyable harvest for many years with no weather pressure and perfectly clean and ripe pinot noir grapes. The vintage was slightly warmer than average. 972 growing degree days versus our average of 942. During flowering in December, the weather was cloudier and wetter than normal which caused temperatures to drop and there was less flower germination. The poorer fruit set meant less berries per bunch and more open bunches when it came to ripening which was a good thing. Average bunch weights were marginally lower than average, and the total harvest was down 5-10% on average. March and April were outstanding months of perfect weather for ripening and picking pinot noir grapes and I don’t recall such a perfect last 30+ days to harvest.

2021 vintage, in summary, was a cool spring and January followed by a warm dry autumn which perfectly ripened a smaller than average crop. The grape volume was down by 20% as was the average bunch size. We picked a week earlier than normal due to the excellent ripening period and a smaller crop. Covid-19, and changes in the availability of skilled vineyard staff, made vineyard work more difficult.

2020 was one of the more difficult vintages due to the cold weather and the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. Spring started normally but weather events turned against us. An unusual atmospheric phenomenon known as Sudden Stratospheric Warming turned everything upside down. A hailstorm hit the vineyard on 16 November and contributed to some flower damage. December, when the vines are flowering, was one of our coldest on record. It was the first time we have recorded lower temperatures in December than November. Average bunch weight (ABW) of 65 g vs long term average of 108 g. The most comparable vintage is 2007 when December was cooler and ABW even lower. The weather did improve, and conditions were excellent for ripening in more typical Central Otago weather of hot dry days and cool nights. The quality of the fruit going into the winery was excellent. 

2019 A slightly warm year but despite this there were a couple of anomalies. 12/13 October delivered the most severe October frost we have experienced in at least 15 years and, at the start of harvest, around 4 to 6 April, we experienced further frosts of -3 to -4 degrees. The events would have been devastating but our vines are well protected by frost fighting sprinklers. Spring was significantly wetter than normal but did not cause problems. February was unusually cool and veraison was slow and spread out. March was warmer than February which is not something we have experienced before and helped progress the ripening process. In total the January through to March period was 10% warmer than average. Similar in seasonal character to 2015 and 2008. Fruit set was good. Overall average bunch weight was 126 g versus historical average 114 g. (The same bunch size as 2013). Frosts at harvest, when fruit was ready to be picked, did cause minor delays in picking but the fruit held up well and was of excellent quality.  Harvest 5 to 12 April. Read more

2018 One of the hottest Central Otago summers on record. The heat, early flowering and ripening and rain in February created more challenges than normal. Despite the challenges the fruit was picked in excellent condition with full flavour development and above average volumes. Temperatures in November, December and January were above average. Growth rates in late November and December were exceptional and it was difficult to keep up with vine training and shoot thinning. Flowering was 2-3 weeks early and the perfect conditions meant excellent fruit set resulting in large tight bunches. Veraison was three weeks ahead of normal. Cooler late afternoon breezes took the heat out the day and slowed ripening. Harvest started on 23 March and finished 31 March, three weeks earlier than normal. Read more

2017 The coolest vintage for at least 15 years.The unusually warm September was followed by a good October and then a period of below average temperatures through until late February. Fortunately flowering was good but the cooler weather during berry development meant bunch sizes were below average. 90 gram average bunch weight which is the lowest since 2007 and 2010 vintages. Picking started on 8 April. 2017 season seems to have favoured Alexandra which ripened earlier than sub-regions to the west. Fruit quality was excellent although yields down on average Read more

2016 The strong El Nino produced more cool south and southwest weather than normal in the spring and early summer. Fortunately the weather was fine during flowering and fruit set was good. The cool spring meant bunches were a little smaller than recent years, which is not a bad thing. In February the heat really picked up producing our hottest February ever and was just what was needed to keep the season on track. March and April were ideal for ripening grapes. The quality of fruit picked was excellent and volume was right on target. Overall the season will be remembered for the cooler than normal spring and the particularly warm February plus the persistent winds, the extra low rainfall and the high number of frosts. Harvest dates identical to 2015. Read more

2015 The season started cooler than normal with October and November temperatures below average and a number of frosts requiring frost fighting. The cool conditions slowed flower development. December warmed up and provided a small but perfect window for the critical flowering period. While the weather at flowering was ideal, the cool spring conditions had meant some flowers proved infertile or set weak berries which did not develop. The result was smaller and more open bunches than normal. January was one of our warmest ever and February and March were good apart from a couple of early frosts. The end of March and early April were exceptionally warm and hand picking commenced earlier than normal finishing on 16 April. Fruit was similar in quality to 2014 but bunch weights were slightly lower. Read more

2014 A warm start to the season with early bud burst. A number of frost events in mid October left young shoots undamaged but flower development was checked. October to December was exceptional kind resulting in an excellent fruit set. January turned out to be one of our coolest experienced and February and March were slightly cooler than average. Despite the slow finish to the season it remained dry and frost free. Harvest was completed on 22 April with excellent quality fruit going to the winery. Read more

2013 A cool vintage with an extremely cool spring but the saving grace was perfect weather at flowering which maximise fruit set and early berry development. February and March were ideal for ripening fruit and although some parts of Otago had fruit ripening earlier than expected we did not start harvest until 22 April. Clean and open bunches and a promising vintage. Read more

2012 After an outstanding warm start with ideal spring flowering and fruit set the weather deteriorated, as it did in all NZ winegrowing regions. By the end of February total solar energy had been only average and in March temperatures drop dramatically putting us on a very slow ripening path. The large tight bunches and heavy rainfalls in summer increased the disease risk and raised fears of a difficult harvest. Fortunately the weather changed and from 12 March we had no rain, hot days and cool nights creating a perfect finish to the season and one of our best harvests ever. Harvest: 18 and 27 April. Already proving to be one of the great vintages. Read more

2011 Spring and summer heat was above average. Outstanding fruit set. Large bunches and berries. Rainfall during February was significantly higher than average throughout Central Otago, increasing the disease risk. 2011 was one of our warmest vintages and the first grapes were picked on 30 March 2011 and in our earliest harvest ever. A difficult vintage in Central Otago due to the summer rain and large tight bunches, however the Alexandra sub-region, with its lower rainfall, produced some excellent quality grapes. 2011 produced a ripe, refined and elegant expression of Grasshopper Rock.. Read more


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