“Getting the understanding of the landscape and the people in the place—that informs how we make the wines. It’s very much about the place,” says Jim White, Cloudy Bay‘s Technical Director. Unlike wine made in many other places around the world, limited to a specific vineyard or region, Cloudy Bay takes advantage of two of New Zealand‘s famous wine regions: Marlborough (in the northeastern tip of the South Island) and Central Otago, not far from Queenstown closer to the southern tip. In fact, it’s the world’s southernmost wine-growing region.
Since acquiring its Northburn vineyard in 2014, Central Otago has played significantly in Cloudy Bay’s winemaking—though they’ve grown and used grapes from the area since 2010. It’s home to the brand’s celebrated Te Wahi, a Pinot Noir made exclusively from grapes grown in Northburn and surrounding vineyards. Additional Pinot Noir is grown and harvested in Cloudy Bay’s Central Otago vineyards and used in the brand’s many other products.
Visitors have long been able to visit Cloudy Bay’s Marlborough estate and cellar door (an on-site visitor center) and The Shack, a house used for private tastings, meals and stays in Marlborough. With the addition of The Shed the brand can now welcome visitors to its southern property in Cromwell, Central Otago as well. It was this that drew our interest and culminated in a visit to the winery and its vineyards, just as the first ripe grapes were coming off the vines.
White’s statement rings true with just about any product that is tied to a specific location, but experiencing the beauty of the South Island and both of its vineyard locations is an incredible experience, especially when done the Cloudy Bay way, taking advantage of mountains, lakes and everything in between. Making wine is always a relationship between people, land and weather, working together to create something that reflects the spirit of the place and the flavors that can be created from its fruit.
The scenery in Central Otago is visually more compelling than that of many other wine growing areas, but its proximity to water and mountains plays a central role in its weather and viticulture.
Built in an old space that was used for storage since its acquisition, Cloudy Bay’s new visitor center is the thoughtful hub of the brand in the south. Nestled in a gentle valley, with a view of the mountain and adjacent to a lake, it’s among the most picturesque vistas to be found. The Shed is influenced both by the maison’s home in Marlborough as well as its unique location in Cromwell—just as their wine is.
“I think with the brand, we’ve inherited something that is incredibly famous. You know, we’re always going to be just caretakers in this. But for me, it’s probably one of the few wines, certainly from New Zealand, that you can meet people anywhere in the world and they have some special connection to it,” says White. Now with The Shed, the brand has the opportunity to continue and elevate that.
A visit to The Shed can be simple—a tasting with a view, lunch, a special event, or a day of foraging culminating in a special meal. Special events, private tastings and tours, helicopter foraging and more are available as well. Visit Cloudy Bay online for hours and details.