Clifton Cottage was built in 1882 for Edward Dark of Glentanner Station; he used it as a down country residence as it was on the main route from Timaru to the Mackenzie country. Prior to his settling at Glentanner, Dark had built cob houses in Nelson, the influence of these thick walled houses can be seen in the cottage with its 450mm walls of limestone block.
After passing through many hands from the late 1880’s until 1925, Colin Garcon Lyon then brought the land. The cottage was lived in by family and then used as farm accommodation until 1964. It was left unoccupied for 35 years leading to the deterioration of the building. Restoration commenced in 1999 by Lyons namesake and grandson. It included a complete new floor, ceilings and window sashes as well as the complete removal of all paint from the doors and architraves. The three metre wide veranda was added as well a commercial kitchen.
The name Opihi is taken from the district and is a Maori word meaning ‘place of good growth’ .
In 1991 Colin Lyon first established the vineyard at another property nearby, planted with Pinot Gris, Riesling , Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. In 2001/2002 he expanded and planted a further two hectares located here at the Clifton Cottage property. The top soil here overlies a base of limestone, perfect for Pinot Noir grapes. These first produced in 2003/2004. We are non-mechanised as part of our ethos is to work that land in a way that is sustainable and to produce small batches of very fine wines.
Selective handpicking into small containers to avoid crushing during April and May guarantees that only the best grapes are harvested and ensures that the fruit remains in excellent condition for transport to George’s Road Vineyard where Kirk Bray the owner and winemaker produces our Lonely Owl Pinot Noir.
The name for our pinot comes from the German owls commonly known as Little owls that live in this area. They call at dusk to their mate and it is a mournful sound that fills the valley.