Curators of Natural Luxury: Cloudy Bay

Cloudy Bay works in harmony with New Zealand’s natural resources to bring luxury to wine enthusiasts across the globe

Sep. 2021Written by Ethan ColchamiroPhotos provided by Cloudy Bay

A beautiful view of the lush vineyard in New Zealand
The original founders of Cloudy Bay in 1985
Group photo of the Cloudy Bay Winemaking team in New Zealand
Beautiful image of vineyards in New Zealand’s Wairau Valley
Jim White taps a barrel of Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir
Technical Director Jim White tastes Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc
Jim White and Kelly Stuart taste Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir
Breathtaking aerial photo of Cloudy Bay Vineyards
The sun rises over the Cloudy Bay Barracks Vineyard in Marlborough, New Zealand

Cloudy Bay’s Sauvignon Blanc captures the essence of the Marlborough wine region and helped make Cloudy Bay the most celebrated winery in New Zealand.

Cloudy Bay’s origin is the result of the passion, vision and perseverance of their founders. Recognizing Marlborough’s ideal climate for the Sauvignon Blanc grape, David Hohnen and his partner Kevin Judd were among the first winemakers in the world to attempt to harvest wine in the region.

Today, the Cloudy Bay winemaking team utilizes cutting edge viticulture techniques to sustainably harvest the natural luxury inherent in Marlborough. They utilize 100% renewable energy and a commitment to soil nutrition and responsible water usage in their quest to produce high-quality wines.

The Wairau Valley is a free-draining alluvial valley whose lower reaches and surrounding fertile plain provide the basis for Marlborough’s wine region.

Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir is de-stemmed before being gravity-fed into the open topped fermentation vessels. After fermentation the wines are matured in French oak for 11 months.

Jim White’s role as Technical Director has him overseeing both the viticulture and the winemaking at Cloudy Bay. Jim’s task is to harvest Marlborough’s best wines through high-caliber fruit. His dedicated vineyard team helps him deliver on these expectations.

Under the direction of Technical Director Jim White, Cloudy Bay’s Assistant Winemaker Kelly Stuart is responsible for guiding cellar hands, machinery, and grapes through each step of the winemaking process.

Cloudy Bay values the beauty and purity of their natural surroundings. This dedication to environmental harmony led them to become members of the Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand certification.

Cloudy Bay strives to create wines which express the regional and national character of New Zealand and the distinctive terroir of Marlborough. They believe nature is a unique form of luxury, which they endeavor to curate to the world through their wines.

While it may be hard to imagine today, given New Zealand’s current status as one of the most highly regarded wine regions in the world, in the mid 1980s setting up a vineyard in Marlborough was a novel venture, as the land was underutilized for wine growing until the late twentieth century. Fortunately, David Hohnen and his partner Kevin Judd had the vision and foresight to be one of the first five winemakers to see the potential for New Zealand wines, and in 1984, Cloudy Bay was born.

Hohnen and Judd named their winery after a body of water explorer Captain James Cook navigated during his travels to New Zealand in 1770. His voyage coincided with flooding in the region, resulting in large amounts of sediment being washed into the sea. Noticing the water’s opaque appearance, Cook christened the area Cloudy Bay.

Choosing Marlborough for their budding winery proved to be a wise decision, as Cloudy Bay’s Sauvignon Blanc was immediately embraced by wine enthusiasts the world over. The vibrant and rich mineral profile helped establish Marlborough on the international stage, and Cloudy Bay cemented their reputation as New Zealand’s most-recognized winery.

Not all Cloudy Bay’s ventures were overnight successes, however. In keeping with David Hohnen’s visionary nature, Cloudy Bay wanted to also explore the potential for Marlborough to grow pinot noir. While the vineyard planted their first pinot noir grapes in 1985, the time and finesse needed to harvest pinot noir in New Zealand’s maritime climate took nearly a decade to perfect. Cloudy Bay released their first pinot noir in 1994, taking its place alongside their sauvignon blanc as a premium wine savored worldwide.

Join us as we take you on a virtual visit to the bronzed hills of Cloudy Bay’s vineyards and learn how they bring their vision of natural luxury to fruition.

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