Interview: Maude Wines and their new tasting room
Since we moved to Wanaka, my wife and I have been continuously meeting really interesting and enterprising people in our little town. Sarah-Kate (SK) and husband Dan Dineen are the driving force behind Maude Wines. Both have achieved great success in their chosen field of viticulture. They have ventured back home to Central Otago with their young family and are now flourishing with the family wine label Maude Wines. Not ones to rest on their laurels, they have recently added a brilliant new tasting room on Golf Course Road right here in Wanaka. It’s a must visit when you next have friends in town!
I spent an hour with both SK and Dan recently to get their take on their work and life here in Wanaka.
How long has Maude Wines been producing wine in Central Otago and how long have you been involved?
Maude Wines has been producing wines in Wanaka since 2006, when we built the winery. However our family estate and namesake, MtMaude Vineyard, was planted in 1994 and my parents Dawn and Terry Wilson have been growing and making wine since it began producing.
What made you decide to move back to Wanaka?
Funnily enough, my Australian husband Dan ‘the import’, was the major influence. I think it was the countless family visits back to stunning Wanaka from the Hunter Valley of Australia. Over the years we had seen the emerging wine industry of Central Otago become quite the force – coupled with the chance to make exceptional Pinot Noir, a winemakers dream, the draw card was huge and ultimately pushed us across the Tasman. We left 2 nicely paid jobs with no kids, to start a business, build a winery and start a family all within a year, yikes!
What were you doing before you returned to Wanaka?
We are both winemakers. Dan from Australia and most of my experience has also been in the Australian wine industry.
How is Maude Wines different from other NZ wine labels?
Wine is such a personal thing. As winegrowers and winemakers we put our own stamp on a wine – you can’t help it, it’s envitable. So when you drink a bottle of Maude Wines, you really are trying a little of what Dan and I believe is quality. It is what Pinot Noir means to us.
If I was to choose two of your wines to cellar away for a special occasion, what two would you recommend?
Without doubt the Mt Maude Pinot Noir, from the beautiful mature family vineyard. This wine is like a ‘little black dress’ – it’s timeless. The second wine would be our Mt Maude Dry Riesling. It’s a hard one to cellar as it’s so enjoyable as a young wine, pristine, vibrant and luscious, but for those who do manage to cellar it for 10 years, you’ll reap the benefits and find the wine transformed into heady aromas of marmalade on toast, burnt limes and no longer crisp and linear but rich, round and mouthfilling.
You have recently opened a fantastic new wine tasting room on Golf Course Road – tell us a bit more about this…
Ok so the official blurb… Situated directly above the picturesque Wanaka township the Maude Wines Tasting Room, in close proximity to our vineyard and winery, provides the perfect place for wine lovers to experience Maude Wines.
Wanaka family owned and operated for 23 years, Maude Wines is a ‘must visit’ for wine lovers, renowned for its Central Otago Pinot Noirs, Chardonnay and Riesling. Taste through the Maude Range or take the opportunity to try our Reserve Range exclusively from our mature Mt Maude Vineyard before they are sold out. Let our friendly, experienced staff and often winemakers take you through the journey of MaudeWines, sharing with you their intimate knowledge of these wines and what makes them so unique.
What is the most rewarding part of your role with Maude Wines?
To live, bring up a family and still be able to do what you love – grow and make wine – in what is definitely one of the most beautiful, wholesome places in the world.
What do you believe are key considerations for opening and successfully running a business here in Wanaka?
- Being present, most businesses here in Wanaka have a completely ‘hands on’ approach to running their business – we’re a small town but we know service and expect it.
- Drawing knowledge from your experiences working in other parts of the World, bringing them home and adapting them to life in Wanaka. There is a wealth of knowledge here in Wanaka.
- Being open minded. To progress in business, it’s as much about admitting when we got something wrong and being ready to adapt, rather than continually barking up the wrong tree because you’re sure your idea would work. However…
- The last would be ‘conviction’ – if you’re going to do something, take it on whole heartedly and do the best you can. Just ticking something off, without consideration for what you’re doing, sure it satisfies the ever increasing need for confirmation and communication we see in the world today but it also creates mediocrity.
Have there been any learnings that you would share with others who are looking to potentially relocate or start a business here?
Ask questions of other Wanaka business owners – we are all open minded, here to help and offer advice. It’s your best pool of knowledge and its free.
Best place to get coffee in Wanaka?
Depends on which barista is on…..
Central Otago is known for producing some of NZ’s best wines. In your opinion, what makes the region’s wines so special?
The landscape and what it offers, the climate and what it offers, the isolation – free from pollution, the people and community. Central Otago is a rugged, spectacular and tough place to grow grapes but only through struggle comes wines with such character – ones that reflect the dramatic beauty of the environment they are grown.
What is Wanaka’s best kept secret?
The people who live here.
Best advice for people moving to Wanaka?
Relax – no need to puff your chest.
It’s 10am on a Sunday morning – where would we find you and what are you doing?
Winter – Riders and Sliders at Treble Cone. Summer – biking with the kids around the lakefront and into town for a coffee.
Favourite time of the year in Wanaka and why?
February generally offers the most settled summer weather for lake side adventures. It’s a lovely time of year in the vineyard too, as you watch your year’s work take shape and the potential of the vintage emerge.