Pinot noir is the secret behind this award-winning Augustines of Central preserve

Central Otago plums and pinot noir prove to be the winning combination for a young chef with a passion for preserving fruit. The preserve was so good that it won the Earth category at the 2021 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards. 

Chef Gus Hayden’s apricots preserved in a riesling syrup captured the essence of Central Otago and the hearts of the judges at the 2019 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards. And now he’s done it again with black doris plums in pinot noir syrup.

The judges described this new product from Augustines of Central as a “lovely story of terroir”. The 36-year-old keen snowboarder sources his fruit and wine locally. “Before the plum season, I reached out on Instagram for collab opportunities with wine producers.” As a result, he now uses Penkridge Farm’s pinot noir.

Augustines of Central Apricot and Date Chutney also won a gold medal at this year’s awards. It took two years to perfect the plum and pinot combination, which judges described as “not over-sweet so would work well with both savoury and sweet accompaniments”.

One of his biggest hurdles is finding the time. He usually works nights cooking at private lodges. “And tourist season is in January when most of the fruit is ready for picking,” says Gus, who often puts in 14-hour days. He is planning to take next year to travel the country to promote his fruit preserves and intends to develop a range of soft drinks made from natural fruit and spices. “I’m a Soda Stream nut and have always made my syrups,” he says.

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About the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards

The winners of the fifth Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards make some of the most delicious food ever tasted. Salute the medallists and winners and support them by buying their gourmet treats.


Paddock: Mixed Box Beef & Lamb, Homegrown, Wairarapa
Dairy: Mascarpone, ViaVio Cheese, Nelson
Water: Pāua, Tora Collective, South Wairarapa
Earth: Black Doris Plums in Pinot Noir, Augustines of Central, Central Otago
Drink: Natural Coconut Kefir Drinking Yoghurt, Raglan Food Co, Raglan

Find the the full list of winners and medallists here.

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