John Curley, The Tasting Panel, caught up with Jack Glover General Manager Mud House Wines while he was touring the US in May 2018.
Jack Glover watches the waters of the San Francisco Bay roil around him, and although the setting isbeautiful, it’s plenty dangerous, too. The winds register at a strong 35 knots, and we’re in a particularly treacherous patch of the swirling waters. The deep underwater channel beneath the Golden Gate Bridge sometimes causes vortexes to form on the surface; the powerful whirlpools can trap smaller vessels, setting them spinning in circles. But we’re not in danger. The Galen Diana, a 49-foot Jeanneau sailboat captained by Rodney Mayer, glides under the bridge mostly unperturbed. Passengers lean over the rails to get a look at the underside of the bridge, but they quickly retreat and huddle behind the canvas to escape the wind. Glover, General Manager of Mud House Wines, is guiding a tasting onboard while simultaneously providing a glimpse into his homeland of New Zealand. It makes perfect sense that he’s here on the boat, as his life and brand are inextricably linked to the water—both in spirit and in practice. An adventurous sailing couple from the U.K. founded Mud House after building a boat in their backyard and setting out to see the world. When they reached New Zealand, they figured they’d seen enough and had found what they were looking for. “They fell in love with Marlborough,” Glover says. “Whether they had the intention of owning vineyards or if they just bought some land on a whim, I’m not sure.” The couple literally put down roots, planting a vineyard and building a house using mud bricks. When locals began calling it the Mud House vineyard, the name stuck. In 2014, Australian company Accolade Wines acquired Mud House Wines, which helped the brand increase exports significantly. Today Mud House ships 400,000 cases of its leading varietal, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, to 80 countries around the world. “It’s the torchbearer for New Zealand, and the fact that you can find it pretty much anywhere in the world speaks to its popularity and to Accolade Wines’ distribution reach,” Glover says. By the time he’s begun leading the tasting on the boat, Glover has been on a two-and-half-week trip across Canada and the United States, mostly meeting with trade and distributors as he helps introduce Mud House’s Pinot Gris. Of course, he’s brought some Sauvignon Blanc to share with passengers as well, as you can’t travel from Marlborough without some of the variety in tow. There’s also a Riesling and several Pinot Noirs—one of which, named Claim 431, is a single-vineyard expression that may be headed to the U.S. market this fall. The Pinots hail from the Bendigo subregion of Central Otago on New Zealand’s South Island. Named after gold discovery site, it was planted in 2003 and is the warmest section of the region. “It seemed to be able to go into those darker fruit spectrums while still retaining good acidity, really good tannin, and the other good things you love about Pinot,” Glover says. The soils there have been formed from glaciers grinding the schist rocks into smaller bits of gravel and other fine particles.
“Yes, Central Otago is full of schist,” Glover jests. Too soon, The Galen Diana heads back to port. As Captain Rod clicks the “iron key,” the diesel engine begins to rumble. The sun has broken through the marine layer, and as the overcast disappears, so does the wind.
Other photos from Jack’s trip