Cloudy Bay Winery Tour: Why is it SO popular?

Many Many People Take a Cloudy Bay Winery Tour Every Year

When visiting Marlborough, the top of most visitors to do list is to take a Cloudy Bay winery tour.

So why is it so popular? Cloudy Bay vineyards and the wine they produce are some of the best known wines around the world from Marlborough New Zealand.

Their wines have been available for over 30 years and have a reputation for exceptional quality. There’s a reason people talk about it.

They have different tasting options in their cellar door, or even private tastings in their tree house.

Cloudy bay winery tour

Cloudy Bay Cellar Door picture taken in their garden looking back to the cellar door during a Cloudy Bay Wine Tour.


The Cloudy Bay from where the winery takes its name

Cloudy Bay Winery Origin Story

Established in 1985 by David Hohnen from Margaret River. David was convinced that Marlborough New Zealand had the potential to produce world class wines.

Having made the decision to invest in Marlborough he then had to choose a suitable name…

The decision was made and Cloudy Bay winery was born. David looked to the history of the region and notably the name of the local bay, Cloudy Bay as named by Captain cook in the late 18th century.

The first Cloudy Bay vineyards were planted in the Wairau Valley of Marlborough. Cloudy Bay winery produced their first wines in the late 1980’s.

Their label is a shot of the Richmond ranges which form the northern boundary of the Wairau Valley.

Hence, the two pictures show the real Richmond ranges and their label.

On the right the Cloudy Bay Wine label showing the Richmond Ranges from the northern side of the Wairau Valley Marlborough New Zealand

Cloudy bay winery tour

Photograph of the Richmond ranges, Marlborough New Zealand Wines


The Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc Everyone Is Talking about

Cloudy Bay in 2019 released its 35th vintage of their Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, however, here I am going to concentrate on their 2018 vintage.

According to Cloudy Bay technical director Jim White “The 2018 vintage is one of the best for many years”.

The Summer, starting in December 2017 was warm and then a little cooler from January 2018 leading to steady ripening. As a result of the season harvest of the grapes commenced on the 21st of March 2018 and completed on the 5th April 2018.

Furthermore the fruit exhibited good ripe flavours with excellent balancing acid. Therefore for this vintage 93% of the juice was fermented in Stainless steel tanks with the 7% balance being fermented in French Oak barrel and large vats.

The result is therefore the barrel fermentation has the effect of softening the acidity in the end wine.

The resulting Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2018 vintage was bottled in July 2018. Released on 1st October 2018, has a residual sugar of 2.9 grams per litre and according to Cloudy Bay will therefore age well for up to 10 years.

Na Clachan Wine Tours takes you to the Cloudy Bay Cellar Door so you can sample the very best of Cloudy Bay.


Imagine sitting in the garden enjoying a glass of world famous Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc during a Cloudy Bay Wine Tour

Cloudy Bay Chardonnay or Pinot Noir..?

This section may surprise many readers who only know Marlborough New Zealand Wines as the producers of Sauvignon Blanc wine. We have so much more to offer…


Wine made from Chardonnay has been through a particularly tough time with many wine drinkers moving away to other varieties.

Chardonnay, the queen of white grapes, lost many wine drinkers as producers used more and more oak in the making of the wine.

This led to wines where it was hard to get the fruit flavours and instead only tasting the oak.

Cloudy Bay Chardonnay was first released in 1986 and has been part of their portfolio ever since. In this post I will be looking at the Cloudy Bay Chardonnay 2017 vintage.

2016 / 17 was a good growing season having excellent flowering leading to heavy fruit set. This required fruit thinning to reduce the crop and ensure good concentration of fruit flavours.

The season had excellent weather during ripening of the fruit, however, rain during harvest created a challenging vintage.

This challenge affected not just Marlborough but the whole of New Zealand. Harvest of their Chardonnay grapes started on 31st March 2017 and finished on 20th April 2017.

The wine making used 15% new French oak barrels and 85% seasoned French oak barrels. The wine rested in the barrels for 11 months with 27% going through malolactic fermentation.

The 2017 Cloudy Bay Chardonnay is drinking well now, however, can be cellared for 10+ years. Serve at 10 to 12 degrees celsius to get the most out of this wine.

Cloudy Bay winery tour
Cloudy bay winery tour

Pinot Noir

Marlborough Pinot Noir is gaining an increasing reputation for quality around the wine drinking world.

Early plantings in Marlborough used Pinot Noir clones more suitable for sparkling wines rather than still wine resulting in lighter Pinot noir wines.

Over the last 20 years or so new plantings of Pinot Noir have used different clones more suited to still wine. Furthermore the new plantings targeted the southern valleys of the Wairau valley where clay soils are found.

The result, more complex and layered Marlborough Pinot Noir being produced.

Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir, first released in 1994 and part of their portfolio of wines ever since. In this post we’re going to focus on the 2017 vintage of their Marlborough Pinot Noir.

Cloudy Bay 2017 Pinot Noir

For the 2017 vintage, as with the Chardonnay, flowering and pollination was good giving the potential of a very large crop.

The winery heavily thinned the fruit to achieve the correct balance of bunches of fruit per vine. The 2017 harvest for the Pinot Noir started on the 24th March and finished on the 11th April ensuring a good balance between fruit and acidity.

The Cloudy Bay Vineyards for this wine are all based in the Southern Valleys on clay based soils. This results in a good structure and colour to the wine. Cloudy Bay de-stemmed all the fruit and put it into open top fermenting vessels.

This juice and skins were plunged to extract the colour and tannin’s for 18 days. Maturation of the juice took place in French Oak barrels for 11 months. 35% of the barrels were new and 65% seasoned.

The 2017 Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir is drinking well now, however, can be cellared for 10+ years. Serve at 14 to 16 degrees celsius to maximise the smooth flavour of the wine.

To answer the question, Cloudy Bay Chardonnay or Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir? In simple terms it is very much personal choice.

It may depend on what you are eating and if the wine works well with the food you are eating. I am a firm believer in drink what you like although it is true to say that certain wines do not go with certain foods. Either way enjoy the choice you make. Cheers!

Cloudy Bay Cellar Door:

There are two Cloudy Bay Cellar Doors, however, in this post we’re going to dive into the Marlborough cellar door.

Na Clachan Wine Tours offers a Cloudy Bay Winery Tour as part of our Marlborough Wine Tour. Various tasting options are available for visitors to the cellar door.

The experience tasting, taste 4 cloudy bay wines being the current vintages of their Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The forth wine is usually the Pelorus Non Vintage Methode Traditionelle bubbles.

For Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc lovers there is a treat at the cellar door.

There is the opportunity to taste three very different Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc side by side.

The three wines are the current Sauvignon Blanc vintage, an aged Sauvignon Blanc and the Te-Koko wine. Te-Koko, a barrel aged Sauvignon Blanc, excellent as a match with food.


Pelorus Method Traditionelle Non Vintage bubbles is available to taste on a Cloudy Bay Wine Tour

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc Te Koko on a Cloudy Bay Winery Tour

Te Koko barrel aged Sauvignon Blanc

Marlborough Cloudy Bay Cellar Door

The Marlborough cellar door has a beautiful decking outside the cellar door and in the summer months the Jack’s Raw bar is open.

Why not sit outside with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc with some treats from the raw bar, maybe some oysters or other seafood offerings.

If Savignon Blanc or seafood is not your thing then another suggestion is a cheese platter accompanied by Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir.

Photos From A Cloudy Bay Winery Tour:

Cloudy Bay Winery Tour

Taking a rest, and enjoying a glass of Cloudy Bay wine together in the garden during a Cloudy Bay Winery Tour


Inside the Marlborough cellar door in winter. A lovely warm fire to welcome guests.


Lovely selection of local cheeses. Why not spoil yourself to a cheese platter with a glass of wine?


Pinot Noir Barrel room seen through the glass in the Cloudy Bay Cellar door, on our Marlborough Wine Tour.

Cloudy-Bay-Cellar-Door, Jacks-Raw-Bar

Jack’s Raw Bar with seafood on ice.

Cloudy Bay Winery Tour

Two excited guests taking a selfie so they can remember their visit to the Cloudy Bay Cellar door Marlborough

How To Join Us On A Cloudy Bay Winery Tour:

We can’t tell you how excited we are to show you around Cloudy Bay and all the other awe inspiring wineries of the region. We have a hunch you might fall in love and never want to leave. Just a hunch! If you want to find out more about Cloudy Bay Wines Click here.

To book your very own tour, we offer our group wine tours in our minibus, or, for that little extra something special, we offer luxury private wine tours in our Mercedes, perfect for couples who want a tour they’ll remember forever.

Look forward to seeing you soon!

-Chris & Lyndie

Na Clachan Wine Tours

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