Todd Stevens: Pinot Personality

Nelson is a sunny wee spot. The almost-2500-sunshine-hours-annually kind of sunny. If you’re now picturing yourself sitting in the sun with a glass of wine, you’re not alone. For those already dreaming of a trip to Nelson, we asked Neudorf Vineyards’ Todd Stevens for his take on wine, work and life in the suntrap of New Zealand’s South Island.

Todd Stevens
Todd Stevens

Savoury, floral… David Bowie

What’s Nelson’s Pinot Personality? According to Todd, it’s David Bowie. “We’ve got our own vibe and our own sound. We’re not the loudest kid in the room but we’ve usually got something to say.”

Noting that the signature flavour of the region is a ‘savoury floral’, Todd reminds us that Nelson is a tiny but mighty area, made up of an eclectic bunch of producers, many of whom take their cue from the land.

“The region, in terms of rocket science, isn’t different to any other region,” he says. “I suppose we’re pioneering some of the newer varieties, particularly Albariño, but there is such a small winemaking community here, you have to experiment a little bit to move forward.”


Wining and dining (and beering and cidering)

So where does one soak up the sun (and the wine), in Nelson? According to Todd, consistent quality can be found at Greenhough (‘they’ve been doing it for 25 years’), Brightwater and the aptly named Middle Earth Wines.

Visitors wanting to experience Nelson like a local should train accordingly – in addition to the award-winning wines, it’s home to plenty of breweries, and the cider is pretty good too, according to Todd.

For those non-boozy times, a trip to Abel Tasman National Park is perfect for a walk and a picnic (which may or may not be accompanied by wine) and if you’re after a tasty bite or two, Todd recommends Cod and Lobster or Urban Eatery. For a casual but delicious meal with a view that’s second to none, he suggests the Boat Shed Cafe on the foreshore, which stretches out onto the estuary.


True to the Earth

“We’re quite a small region, I think we make up less than two percent of the national crush,” Todd says. A smaller space naturally lends itself to boutique-style wineries, of which Neudorf is one. The vineyard is dry-farmed organically, and the wine is vegan, although this is more of an extension of the focus on nature than by design.

“Nelson has a lot to offer in terms of diversity. We are an eclectic bunch, it’s multi-dimensional. It’s not all about grapes and, in fact, grapes only make up a small part of what’s going on here. You’ve got the hops, fruit, seafood, so there is quite an ability to come and explore.”

When asked why he chose Nelson, Todd answers with certainty. “It offered the opportunity for a very good life, and a chance to work with a renowned winery in Neudorf. And of course, there’s the weather.”

Of course.

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