Sam Neill

Two Paddocks: The bodega dreamed by actor Sam Neill

J.M. Towers

Hollywood star Sam Neill´s winery began developing a modest family vineyard that ended up being combined with those of his neighbor´s, the movies director Roger Donaldson. Since that moment, it has expanded immensely and today produces some of the best wines in New Zealand.

“Two Paddocks is a small family business dedicated to the making of a great wine.” That´s how the actor and New Zealander Sam Neill, who is the protagonist of successful productions, such as Jurassic Park, The Piano, and the popular series, The Tudors, defines his winery.

Two Paddocks
Sam Neill.

The Two Paddocks winery started in 1993 with really modest ambitions: Sam Neill only planted five acres of pinot noir in a small vineyard in Gibbston, Central Otago, in the deep south of New Zealand.

Sam Neill has 25 years of experience in the production of wines and has always been very personally involved in the development of their projects.

At the same time that these vineyards were planted, his good friend, Roger Donaldson, a film director, producer and screenwriter of Australian decent who settled in New Zealand, planted his own vineyards in nearby lands to those of Neill. This was the reason why they decided to call their winery Two Paddocks.

Neill´s idea was to produce quality pinot noir, which could be enjoyed by family and friends alike. Although he says, jokingly, that his friends would drink anything, it is certain that the first harvest of 1997 was very good, very distinguished for 1998, and for 1999 it was quite rightly excellent.

Two Paddocks

Since that original launch, each successive year has seen pinot noir wines produced that, as its owner graciously says, “has made us feel proud and, to be blunt, it is too good to waste them on our friends.”

Their initial vineyards have been expanded to other small plots located in the districts of Alexandra, Bannockburn and Central Otago. In the year 2000, they also acquired Red Bank, a small farm of 130 acres in size located between two steep cliffs. It is an area of great natural beauty, where you will find their main vineyard, the headquarters of the wine cellar and a Club House where they carry out the visiting exercises and tasting sessions.

Sam Neill has 25 years of experience in the production of wines and has always been very personally involved in the development of their projects. As he himself says, “I do it in my favorite place in the world,” which has led him to commit to the local community, especially in matters related to the environment.

Two Paddocks

The labels that the brand produces as of the present time are: Two Paddocks Estate Central Otago Pinot Noir, The First Paddock Gibbston, The Last Chance Alexandra and The Fusilier Bannockburn.

Some of the names of these wines, being very appreciated by international critics due to their vibrant expressiveness, elegance and persistence on the palate, have their history. The Last Chance, which has grapes that are cultivated in Alexandra, takes its name from the water source that runs close to the vineyards and that was excavated by hand in the decade of 1860s by adventuring miners in search of gold. The Fusilier pinot noire is a tribute to Major Dermot Neill, Sam‘s father, who was a distinguished soldier in the Royal Irish Fusilier Regiment for 20 years.  ■

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