Cloudy Bay celebrates 30th sauvignon blanc vintage

Cloudy Bay Winery in Marlborough.
SUPPLIED/Stephen Tilley Photography

Cloudy Bay Winery in Marlborough.

New Zealand wine is beginning to come into a style of its own, one leading label's director believes.

Thirty years after Cloudy Bay winery in Marlborough launched its first sauvignon blanc vintage, the label is still expanding in a competitive industry.

Estate director Ian Morden says resilience has been key to the winery's growth over the years - particularly in tough times.

Cloudy Bay viticulturalist Jim White says the brand keeps to its values on wine making.

Cloudy Bay viticulturalist Jim White says the brand keeps to its values on wine making.

"Especially around 2008 there was an over supply in the market for wine. Everyone really felt it around then.

"But since that time we've managed to get the balance just right in terms of supply and demand," he says.

A vision is key to a brand's success, Morden says.

Cloudy Bay estate director Ian Morden.
SUPPLIED/Stephen Tilley Photography

Cloudy Bay estate director Ian Morden.

And there are two pathways for wineries to take - quality or quantity. 

He says evolving - not changing - is one of Cloudy Bay's success stories.

That vision has passed through to it's 30th vintage of sauvignon blanc that launched on Thursday , Morden says.

"Back when this started in 1985 the land was nothing but flooded plains. They had a vision and took a large punt at that time."

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It was the 1985 vintage that put New Zealand's wine on the world map, Morden says.

His advice to emerging wineries is the same - stick to your vision and have access to a decent distribution network.

Senior staff through to winemakers make no apology for sticking to their guns.

That stance is seen especially in the wine making process, Cloudy Bay viticulturist Jim White says.

He says he values keeping wine making as natural as possible.

Cloudy Bay doesn't have a set harvesting date each year - the decision is made following complex calculations involving weather, acidity and water levels.

But with most of the region's viable land tied up in wine making, room for expansion is limited.

Suitable land is eyed up when it becomes available, White says. 

Land that is further up the Wairau River is favoured as down stream is deemed too fertile by Cloudy Bay.

White says the harder land makes the vines work more, providing a crisp and better taste in its sauvignon blanc.


Kiwi businesses need a link to overseas countries to expand its markets, Ian Morden says.

Cloudy Bay's estate director says it's important to the wine industry that the country is open to trade.

He says New Zealand's stance on trade has benefited the brand internationally.

"It's good the Government is trying to open pathways for exporters. John Key's right in that you're not going to be successful just selling to four million people," he says.

He wants continued improvements to make it a smoother process for New Zealand companies to move into new markets.

Morden says local businesses and the tourism sector are increasingly joining forces to promote New Zealand as an "experience".

That's particularly the case in China at the moment, Morden says.

"It's not just about getting tourists to the Marlborough region. It's now about visiting Marlborough, as well as tasting New Zealand wine and New Zealand food," he says.

He's also called for greater collaboration between industries and Tourism New Zealand.

 - Stuff


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