The name Doctors Flat remains something of a mystery, as there was no resident doctor in Bannockburn.
The name appears in other mining areas. One possible explanation is that miners suffering from toothache would visit ‘the doctor’ (THE PROPRIETOR) of the local sly grog shop or hotel to obtain a bottle of ‘painkiller’.
The story of Doctors Flat Vineyard begins in the late 1980s, in France and California, where Steve Davies first encountered great practitioners of old world winemaking, and the best of new world innovators.
Determined to make quality wine, he returned to New Zealand for postgraduate study, and after a brief detour into Sauvignon Blanc production moved back to the Napa Valley, California.
Having served an apprenticeship making great Bordeaux reds at Newton the first clear steps toward New Zealand was the move, in 1996, to Saintsbury and making Pinot Noir.
By 1999 Steve had settled in Central Otago, making Pinot for Akarua and on the hunt for his own land. He was looking for something in particular—a site that would offer all the conditions he had come to believe were essential for great Pinot. It was a long and thorough search, and in 2002 he found it, an elevated site on deep glacial gravels in Bannockburn. Doctors Flat Vineyard was a reality.
There is tale unfolding. His pursuit of quality has evolved and shifted focus: from the art of winemaking, to grapes and vineyards, and now into the site and soil, the true source of wine of quality.
Patience remains key. Steve is farming organically, taking the time to build soil health, observing changes as the vines age and making