Tim and Judy Finn planted their first vines in 1978 on slopes overlooking the Moutere Valley at the top of New Zealand’s South Island. They called their fledgling business Neudorf after the name of a tiny nearby hamlet established by German settlers in 1842. Judy freely admits that what the couple lacked in expertise or knowledge at the time they made up for with “youth, self-belief and friends.”
Initially the Finns had to plant many grape varieties to see which were best suited to the soils on their land, as so little was known about viticulture at the time in New Zealand. However it was not long before Neudorf started to earn a high reputation for concentrated, minerally Moutere chardonnay with complex fruit characters. Other grape varieties are now grown with great success here including rich and herbal sauvignon blanc; pure, limey riesling, aromatic and full-bodied pinot gris and dense, complex pinot noir. In the vineyards a combination of high plant density and low production gives the fruit concentration and palate length for which Neudorf wines have become known. Some wines are completely sourced from local Moutere-grown fruit whilst some other examples come from further afield in Nelson.
True to the ‘back to the land’ movement of the 1960s which sparked their interest in owning vines in the first place, the Finns were notable founder members of the New Zealand Sustainable Viticulture Group. Environmentally friendly practices at Neudorf include replenishing organic soil matter, sustaining micro-organisms and composting all winery wastes. Tim and Judy firmly believe in a natural approach without undue intervention stating. “We admire wines that have poise and finesse, wines that speak more of place than of winemaker.”
Although the Finns have come a long way since their early days they are quick to admit that “…making wine is constantly scary and stimulating. We survive on hard work, high hopes and a dollop of common-sense and cunning.” As keen Wine Society supporters they are always happy to welcome members to their Cellar Door which is open throughout the year. They also sell Neudorf sheep and cows cheese and, although there is no on-site restaurant, the gardens make a lovely spot for a picnic.