Rain (Boot) Riches
The Gumboot Clone (“gumboot” is the New Zealand term for a rain boot)—also known as the Abel Clone—is the secret weapon behind many of NZ’s best pinot noirs. Apparently, a New Zealand rugby player returning from France in the 1970s tried to sneak pinot noir cuttings into the country in his rain boots. Rumor has it they were cuttings from the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in Burgundy (of course). The plants were found by a clever customs agent named Malcolm Abel, who also happened to be a grape grower. Abel passed the cuttings through customs, and promptly planted them in his own vineyard and shared them with his friend Clive Paton of Ata Rangi Vineyard. After Abel passed away, Paton continued to grow the Gumboot Clone which eventually spread across the country, and now accounts for some of the most exciting pinot noirs in New Zealand.