Tim and Judy Finn were fresh from the “back to the land” movement of the late sixties. They wanted to make beautiful wine so figured Tim’s masters in Animal Behaviour along with Judy’s unimpressive journalism career would be beneficial. Wrong! However They did have youth, self belief and friends, and at one stage, four mortgages and three jobs each. The old house at Neudorf had electricity in two rooms, an outside long drop, an inefficient wood stove and no hot water.
Because in 1978 there was so little known about basic viticulture in New Zealand they planted many varieties to see which ones were best suited to their soils. Merlot came and went as did Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc and the dreaded Muller Thurgau. They were a bit hasty in rejecting Gewürztraminer and may look at that again. But they did it with a heap of people – neighbours, family, friends and some fantastic staff who each left their mark, many going on to work in other wineries or to plant their own vineyards and make their own wine.
Today, 31 years later and Tim and Judy still love what they do and are still learning, not just about viticulture and wine-making but exporting, currency exchange, the internet, human resource issues, distribution, yeasts and barrels, clones and crop levels. Great wines have a basis of fruit concentration, length and sense of place – characters which can be formed only in the vineyard. The team at Neudorf believe their primary task is to grow grapes which express the site, to take the essence of that fruit and then preserve it as wine. On the way they may fine tune the balance and complexity in a number of ways but the aim is always to allow the wines to be an expression of the vineyard.
Having tasted many Neudorf wines over the years I can thoroughly recommend paying their website a visit to find out more about them and perhaps buying some of their wine online. http://www.neudorf.co.nz/