About Charcoal Gully

The Beginning

In searching for a property to develop in the late 1990’s Brian and Cheryll Sanders found themselves being drawn to the challenge of some kind of horticultural venture “on the edge”.  The Cromwell Basin in Central Otago, with its stunning scenery and relaxed lifestyle, proved to be the perfect place in which to live the dream.

Having finally decided on a parcel of 28 hectares on Mt Pisa Station, the first challenge proved to be riding out the tediously lengthy Tenure Review process that Mt Pisa Station owners, Murray and Jacky McMillan, faced. Having committed to the land the next step was how to develop it given that at that time it lay beyond the “wine belt” of the Cromwell Basin.

A passion for fine wine, the growing reputation of the region as a great Pinot Noir producer, and an informative and encouraging session with viticulturist Robin Dicey, the decision was made to take the plunge and pursue viticulture, the vision being to produce fine Pinot Noir.

Reassured by Murray (owner of Mt Pisa Station), in the true spirit of a gentleman’s agreement, that as far as he was concerned the land belonged to Brian and Cheryll , the first vines were finally planted three years after signing the contract and six months before having legal title. 

Vines were planted late in 2003 after the installation of an irrigation and frost-fighting system. Since spring 2003 was warm the vines took off with vigor and after 6 weeks, some reached the top wire and were described by Robin Dicey as “crazy snakes”. Feeling this was a good omen, the vineyard was extended the following year to include two hectares of Gewürztraminer.

Our vision

Our vision is to work with the terroir and challenging Mediterranean climate of the Cromwell basin, and combine the skill of the viticulture and winemaking teams to produce sustainable single vineyard premium Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir Rosé that reflect the unpredictable and exciting whims of nature. Constant with each vintage will be the very best wines possible of an elegant and modern style.

Our name

Sally’s Pinch, which is the wine’s namesake, is a small impassable basin near the summit of Mt Pisa that overlooks and stands high above the vineyard. In years gone by it was not uncommon for keen local skiers to haul their gear up to the top of the Pisa Range via Sallys Pinch.

Who was Sally?

After a great deal of research it was revealed that Sally was a horse. She and her rider were always ripe for a challenge and, in the spirit of the vintners of the region, full of adventure. In looking at the mountain, it is easy to imagine that following the last “pinch” to the top of the Range, her rider could not help but be inspired by the stunning panorama; the Clutha River threading like a blue ribbon below whilst in the foreground spread the dark and sombre Dunstan Mountains and to the distant north east the snow- capped Hawkdun Range.