The Mud House Wines of New Zealand

Peter and Betsy SpannWinemakers Nadine Worley & Hayden Oliver

Established in 1996 and now owned by four families, Mud House is a medium-sized (150 thousand cases/year) New Zealand winery with 400 hectares of vines in Marlborough (100 ha), the Waipara Valley (219 ha), and Central Otago (81 ha). [See map below.] It also purchases fruit from a number of growers. The wines are all well-balanced with excellent natural acidity. The line of Mud House Estate wines are especially delicious and refined in character.

The winemakers at Mud House are Nadine Worley and Hayden Oliver. Beginning next year, Ben Glover will take on the role of managing winemaker, with responsibility for both the Mud House and Waipara Hill brands.

The Vineyards. Mud House’s Woolshed Vineyard, planted mostly to Sauvignon Blanc (UCD 1), is located in Marlborough and includes clay and alluvial soils on the plain and stony, infertile soils on the hilly glacial moraine deposit. The moraine portion produces small, concentrated berries and low yields of about 8 tons/ha, while the flatter, alluvial portion gives yields as high as 18 tons/ha. Central Otago is home to Mud House’s Golden Terraces Vineyard with loam over schist gravel soils; it’s located in the warm, Bendigo sub-region. Ten different clones—a mix of UC Davis, Dijon, and old New Zealand—are grown there. The vineyard is young, and Mud House is experimenting with canopy management, cover crops, and the like to find what produces the best fruit. The Waipara holdings include the Home Block Vineyard, the Deans Vineyard, and the Mound Vineyard. These vineyards are mostly planted to Pinot Gris with smaller amounts of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. The soils are gravel loam over an alluvial subsoil.

Peter and Betsy SpannSouth Island Wine Regions

The Wines. Sauvignon Blanc accounts for half of Mud House’s total production, and 83 different parcels of vines are spread throughout different sub-regions of Marlborough. Each sub-region contributes something different in aromas and flavors, which taken together contribute complexity and interest to the wines.

Mud House makes three lines of wines: Mud House; Mud House Estate, made only from estate vineyards; and Mud House Single Vineyard, the winery’s top wines made from selected parcels of the estate vineyards. Only the Mud House and Mud House Estate are currently imported to the US. Given the excellent quality of the Mud House Estate line, we hope the importer soon brings in the Single Vineyard line as well. Mud House is sustainably certified by SWINZ [Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand].

Thanks to winemaker Hayden Oliver and marketing specialist Jack Glover for our lengthy and informative conversation on the vineyards and winemaking at Mud House.

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