Sauvignon Stories: Kevin Judd

04 May 2021

Born in England and raised in Australia, Kevin Judd attended Roseworthy Agricultural College in Adelaide, earning a degree in oenology. After working in New Zealand for three years, in 1984 he met David Hohnen, who wanted Kevin to be his winemaker for a new company being established. That company, was Cloudy Bay, and the rest they say, is history.

Kevin Judd PHOTO: ©Mike White
Kevin's first wine job was at a nearby winery in the early 1980’s, and when it was time to move on, he applied for a job with two wineries in New Zealand. He landed a position at Selaks in Marlborough, although he had never tasted a New Zealand wine at that time…
He and his wife Kimberley had intended to stay for three years in New Zealand and then to return to Australia, but then in 1984 he met David Hohnen, who had an idea in mind for a new winery operation. David wanted Kevin to be his winemaker, and after he accepted, the new company was established. Soon afterwards, Kevin moved to Marlborough to supervise the building of a new winery - he was the only employee at this time. "We wanted a dry but very aromatic and intensely fruity style of Sauvignon Blanc". In a nutshell, the classic Marlborough style that the world now knows so well. The wines would bear the label, Cloudy Bay. “I was there from the beginning,” Kevin remembers. “We established Cloudy Bay after David had seen what was being produced in Marlborough. 

I was both very excited and puzzled about the future of Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough. It was Sauvignon Blanc that attracted us to Marlborough.”

 

Kevin Judd capturing Collingwood sunset PHOTO: Mick Rock

Kevin led the development of Cloudy Bay's wines from their infancy for 25 years, and after Cloudy Bay was purchased by the Moët-Hennessy group, Kevin moved on to create his own label in Marlborough called Greywacke in 2009. Named for a type of stone found in local vineyards, Greywacke very quickly became an established brand with a keen following, even though it started at the beginning of the global financial crisis.

Eleven years later, another global crisis emerged and New Zealand going into Lockdown during harvest proved one of the greatest challenges yet. However, Kevin and his team hunkered down, with the crew at the Greywacke winery in the Omaka Valley of Marlborough living in the winery headquarters and at Kevin’s home. There was also a camper van parked on the property. It was surprisingly effortless, says Kevin. “The vintage just cruised through,” he said, adding that his 2020 wines are “as good as we’ve ever made.” 

With his non-interventionist approach to winemaking, Kevin is keen on the use of wild yeasts to ferment his wines, so as well as the Greywacke Wild Sauvignon, his Chardonnay, Pinot Noir are also made exclusively with indigenous yeasts. "What I like about wild yeasts is that they give personality to a wine, another dimension, a savoury element, texture," he says.

Apart from his winemaking skills, Kevin is also a renowned photographer, particularly his stunning images of grapes and vineyards in New Zealand. His photography started as a hobby, and soon became more serious, eventually resulting in published books and prints, available at Kevin Judd Photography.

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