Greywacke winery visit

Greywacke winery visit

Those who know Greywacke probably know it for its origins in the Cloudy Bay brand, where Kevin Judd directed the first 25 vintages and arguably defined the leading style of Sauvignon Blanc that the Marlborough region became so famous for during the 80s and 90s. Since 2009, Kevin moved on from LVMH and has established the family winery to make wine that represents his own philosophy.

Greywacke cellar door

Arriving at Greywacke, you could easily miss the small wooden sign hanging on the road outside the property that announces only the name of the winery and offers no further information. In fact, there is nothing to suggest that it’s any more than the name of the property or the owner’s surname. A long but simple driveway curves around a front lawn that is planted with stunning tree cover and eventually gives way to a homestead and some sheds. This is not a winery that shouts about itself, even though it easily could do so.

Parking at the edge of the driveway - there’s no signage telling us where to go but we’re approached by Alex, Kevin’s son. He’s officially the assistant winemaker, but he’s on light duties due to an incident involving a game of cricket. Light duties involves writing up wine and food matches, hosting events and visitors. He assured us he hasn’t learned any lessons and will return to wicket keeping as soon as the healing process allows.

The tasting room is a light, airy and well appointed room with a large welcoming table. When we arrive, it’s already laid with Riedel glassware and the wines have just been poured ready for us. We’ve each been set up with a list of the wines and a gift of 3 beautifully packaged greeting cards that showcase a few of the photographs taken by Kevin, whose other interest is photography. You’ll also find his photographs on each of the wines and in several books about New Zealand wine.

A lineup of 6 bottles sat at the end of the table as we begin to assemble… Alex waited for the two groups to settle and began to tell us the story of the wines we’re tasting, and the origins of the winery. There’s no pomp or ceremony, and it’s a world apart from the experience you’ll get at the big brand wineries - this is a story about wine, about vintage challenges, and overcoming nature’s attempts to ruin a crop and about caring for the people and the partnerships that make it all possible.

The wines we tasted were as follows (and in order), some of our notes can be found below:

    • Sauvignon Blanc 2023
    • Wild Sauvignon 2021
    • Chardonnay 2021
    • Pinot Gris 2022
    • Riesling 2022
    • Pinot Noir 2021

There’s a wine missing from the 7 wines that Greywacke produce - no Botrytis Pinot Gris here as it’s sold out at the winery. Maybe next time!

Over the next hour as we relaxed and tasted through the wines, we enjoyed hearing the stories about the origins of Greywacke and its winemaking philosophy - our host explains not only what’s done, but why - the trials of what worked and what didn’t. Winemakers are meticulous about keeping notes, and when things go wrong - they’ll spend time to figure out why. Not only that, in Greywacke’s case there is no second wine label to fall back on, they simply won’t put their name on the mistake just to make a dollar.

Our takeaway from this visit is that New Zealand wine is really coming of age in the Marlborough region, with second generation winemakers now playing a bigger part in the industry [and much like in France, succession is an interesting topic], working to grow the business and create a legacy.

A tasting at Greywacke is like a chat amongst friends, and unlike with some of the bigger wine businesses there’s no hard sell and no charge for the opportunity to try their wonderful range of wines and meet the team. Highly recommended.

Our tasting notes

Sauvignon Blanc

The Sauvignon Blanc is everything I’ve come to expect of a premium Marlborough Sauvignon; consistent year on year based on the blending process, this varietal is the mainstay of the region and keeps the accountants happy by requiring no time in oak. We consider this to be a benchmark example.

Tasting: Pale in the glass, showing a clean nose of tropical fruit. Layered citrus on the palate, textural in the mouth and nicely balanced acidity leading to a drawn out finish.

Technical note: 450k Litres produced (that’s over 7 shipping containers full), with only 2% destined for the NZ market. 85% fine champagne yeast, 15% indigenous yeast.

Wild Sauvignon

Tasting note: The Wild Sauvignon is unlike your average Sav, with a hands-off approach that leaves the ferment up to nature. This is a complex wine that would stand up against a Chardonnay in a blind tasting and head to head would confuse many who are guessing its origin. The colour is much more yellow than the SB, the nose is apple and gooseberry, the palate is both spicy and fruity, and it finishes crisply with a lingering note.


Tasting note: Citrus - Lime and Mandarin with Ginger and tropical fruit. Umami savoury sweet flavour and dry minerality in the mouth. This is delightful to drink now, but will likely age well.

Technical note: Full solid and Full Malolactic fermentation here; the wine is now 12 months in oak instead of an original 18 as trials showed no further improvement from the oak and the use of the stainless tank for the final 6 months gives a consistent and predictable outcome.

Pinot Gris

This is not the Pinot Gris that many people expect to find in the region, this is an old-world full style that tastes sweeter due to the fruit achieving full ripeness; it’s clear that this wine is not intended as a Sauvignon alternative [as some are] - there is no green gris here.

Tasting note: Citrus fruits and pears, the palate is generous and the wine gives the impression of sweetness. The finish however, is off-dry and the wine is well balanced. Long finish.


Tasting note: Pungent aroma at first as a result of the wild fermentation, but giving way to a complex floral nose. The wine is off-dry and present a citrus driven palate with some beeswax. The acidity holds the wine together well and the finish is lingering.

Pinot Noir

Tasting note: Ripe cherry, strawberry and hedgerow fruit complemented by spice and smoke, good complexity to the medium mouthfeel and offering a delightful finish. What’s great here is that this is not a Marlborough Pinot that is trying to be something else, instead it’s showing the results of clay based hillside vineyards at the edge of the valley very nicely. There’s no suggestion of over-oaking and yet it can be both smoky and spicy in good quantities. This is tempting now, but likely to reward a few years in the cellar.


We visited Greywacke on 12th January 2024.


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