Muddy Water was born almost a quarter century ago when viticulture pioneers Jane and Michael East recognised the potential for grape growing in the Waipara Valley. They first planted the vineyard in 1993 with a range of experimental varieties - what worked, stayed, and what didn't thrive was pulled out. The first wines released in 1996 quickly established Muddy Water Estate as one of the first real high quality producers in the area, and much of our wine today is still being made from those original vines.
The Easts retired in 2011 after two decades of winemaking accolades and passed stewardship of Muddy Water to the Thomas family, who continue to take the winery from strength to strength under the philosophy of minimal intervention, creating wines that fully express both site and vintage.
Muddy Water Estate
Nestled in the lee of the Teviotdale Hills in the Waipara Valley and sheltered from the cool ocean breezes, the Muddy Water estate is an ideal spot for cool climate viticulture. Our 12 hectare estate is flatter across its front section, then steep up the back as it goes up the north-facing hillslopes. The blocks are interspersed with a small olive grove and a naturally renewing spring winding its way through the property. All our wine is made and bottled on-site in our hand-built straw bale winery just a few hundred metres from the vines.
Our name Muddy Water is a literal translation of 'Waipara' - and, like our wines, is a direct reflection of the environment around us.
The fertile limestone-washed soils impart a certain evocative darkness to our wine, a richness and distinct texture that's a signature characteristic of our range. The soil type is ideal for growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, mirroring the calcareous clay soils that are the natural home of these classic varieties. Warm summers with cool nights extend into dry, gentle autumns for a long growing season. With no rush to pick in the height of summer, grapes are allowed to hang and fully ripen with complex varietal expression and intense flavour.
Muddy Water was the first certified organic winery in Canterbury, and all our wines are certified AsureQuality organic. As many New Zealand wines become more commercialised we aim in the other direction, making small batch wines with soul.
We believe true fine wines are temporal, each vintage a fleeting snapshot of a place in time. We don't seek to manipulate the final product with additives or flavourings – instead we allow a true interpretation of the soil, vines and season to shine through. The majority of our vines are ungrafted – now a rarity in the industry – giving our wines an authentic expression found in few other places.
Crop management is done meticulously by hand without herbicides, insecticides or systemic fungicides, using organic methods and biodynamic soil management to proactively promote soil and vine health. It's a hands-on approach that means being intimately connected to the blocks, walking the rows and being attuned to subtle changes in the soil, vines and grapes. It's labour intensive, but it's also how you make truly remarkable wine. For us, it's a labour we love.
At harvest we handpick the bunches, tasting the grapes and inspecting them for important flavour signifiers like seed ripeness. We find that if you've got great grapes, you don't have to do much to them. We use wild yeast fermentation and bottle unfiltered whenever possible. Bottling unfined and unfiltered reveals more layers and complexity; it's like listening to your favourite album on vinyl and hearing richer, more nuanced tones. It's wine for slowing down and savouring.