Local caves are filled with ancient pictographs painted by the Chumash Indians, dating back to the Portola Expedition of 1769. The beautiful pictographs of this culture have become very rare due to erosion and weathering, but some of the most well preserved examples remain on the ranch and have been studied by archeologists and photographed for books on the subject.
Today, the Semler Family owns Saddlerock Ranch. Ronnie and Lisa Semler, along with their nine children, have lived on the ranch for over twenty-seven years.
Austrian-born Rudi's reputation as a winemaker goes ahead of him, and his list of awards is extensive. Rudi gained a degree in viticulture and winemaking in Salzburg, and gained experience in Austria and Germany before his arrival in New Zealand in 1985. He worked at Mission Vineyard in Hawkes Bay until 1989, doing vintages in his offseasons in California and Oregon.
His Oregon experience gave Rudi a taste for pinot noir, and he moved to Central Otago to make the region's first gold and trophy pinot noir at Rippon Vineyard in 1991 in the Royal Easter Show 1993. His 1992 Rippon Vineyard Selection also won gold, and trophy. Rudi moved on to Canterbury to produce consistent medal-winners for Giesen over five years, before returning to Central Otago in 1997 to continue his success.
Rudi is a partner in a new vineyard, Quartz Reef, at Bendigo, whose first Sparkling Chauvet, made in association with French winemaker Clothilde Chauvet (also formerly a winemaker at Rippon), has just been released. He will leave the CO Wine Company next year to concentrate on developments at Quartz Reef.
Rudi says Otago wines have a good portfolio, with the flagship being Pinot Noir, because of its consistency and quality. He has strong confidence in Riesling, Gewurtztraminer, Chardonnay and especially Pinot Gris.