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How Cloudy Bay put New Zealand wine on the map


How it all began

Despite the relative youth of Cloudy Bay, and New Zealand wine as we know it, it’s actually 200 years since the first vines were planted in the country’s Bay of Islands, in 1819. Soon after, Scotsman James Busby, who had been making wine in Australia, brought his expertise across the Tasmanian Sea. But although an industry developed steadily afterwards, it waned when the phylloxera louse devasted vines and the temperance movement gained pace.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that a new age of New Zealand wine began. Around this time, winemakers discovered the potential of Marlborough’s striking terroir. And in 1985, Cloudy Bay was brought to life. Founder Dave Hohnen had already established Australia’s successful Cape Mentelle estate. Inspired by the New Zealand sauvignon blancs he tasted, Hohnen pioneered Cloudy Bay – one of Marlborough’s first wineries – creating a different style of sauvignon. The rest of the country soon followed, as Central Otago and other key wine regions developed their own varietal expressions. These wines now rival the greats.

Today Cloudy Bay remains a leading light in New World wine, with the untamed natural surroundings that inspire its wines, a destination in themselves . From vineyards in Marlborough and Central Otago, it creates a chardonnay, a pinot noir, a delicate sparkling wine, and more. And, as showcased in the 2019 vintage, sauvignon blanc remains the flagship grape.