Enjoying the sweet taste of success

Dan and Sarah Kate Dineen of Maude, near Wānaka, celebrate their award winning 2023 champion...
Dan and Sarah Kate Dineen of Maude, near Wānaka, celebrate their award winning 2023 champion riesling, Maude Reserve East Block Riesling. They also won the Heritage Rosebowl Trophy and were announced ultimate winemakers of the year at the recent National Wine Awards Aotearoa New Zealand. PHOTO: MARJORIE COOK
Maude Wines winemakers Sarah-Kate and Dan Dineen have won three awards, including Winemakers of the Show, at the 2023 National Wine Awards Aotearoa New Zealand. 

The awards were announced on November 5 at a function in Auckland. 

The competition attracted 3000 entries.

The couple said this week they regarded the wins as a tribute to the late vineyard co-founder Terry Wilson, 84, Mrs Dineen’s father, who died in April, just after the grapes had been picked. 

"He would be proud as punch. He would be chuffed. He would also be asking, how would we improve it," Mrs Dineen said.

Winning the Rosebowl Trophy for a second time showed they were not a "one-trick pony" and their wines had pedigree, they said.

"It is extraordinary that one little plot has won so many awards," Mrs Dineen said.

Sarah-Kate Dineen holds the Heritage Rosebowl Trophy at the recent national wine awards in...
Sarah-Kate Dineen holds the Heritage Rosebowl Trophy at the recent national wine awards in Auckland. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Mr Wilson grew up in the Esk Valley, in Hawke’s Bay, and decided more than 30 years ago when he was at the University of Otago to get into the wine industry.

He and his wife Dawn founded the 4ha Maude Vineyard in the Maungawera Valley, near Wanaka, nearly 30 years ago.

"Wānaka, that is where his heart was. That was his home since 1973. They really searched hard to find the right site," Mrs Dineen said.

In 1994, the Wilsons planted their first vines, using just their hands and a crowbar.

They used cuttings from original vines grown at Wānaka’s Rippon Vineyard.

These had been dry grown (unirrigated) on their own roots.

Mr Dineen said vines grown on their own roots could grow vigorously and live forever, while the lifespan for grafted vines was about 80 years.

Now, most Central Otago vines were grown on grafted rootstock from the United States, because phylloxera, an insect pest, had entered the country.

That made them very protective of Maude’s vines and workers and visitors were asked to wash their feet and shoes before coming on to the property.

For that reason, too, there are no public sales or tastings on the vineyard.

Their wine is made at Maude Wines factory in Connell Tce, while hospitality and tasting is provided at their restaurant in Golf Course Rd. 

Mr and Mrs Dineen met in the Hunter Valley of Australia, where both worked in the wine industry, before coming to Wanaka to run Maude Wines.

They have won many other awards for Maude’s pinot noir, chardonnay and riesling vintages.

Their grapes are not blended with any other fruit from the district.

With just 1ha  of the 4ha  vineyard planted in riesling, just 350 six-packs of the multiple award-winning East Block riesling are produced a year.

The secret to their success was the riesling’s site, catching the morning sun, sheltered from winds and mostly escaping frosts.

Because the riesling grapes were not being beaten by the afternoon sun, they retained more adicity, which in the winery was balanced with sugars to achieve a "sweet and sour" taste, Mrs Dineen  said.

Maude Wines is planning to celebrate its 30th anniversary next year.