Mountford Estate: Waipara Gem
Writing about wine can be boring but writing about the people behind wine can be
fascinating. Case in point is Mountford Vineyard in the Waipara region of New Zealand’s
South Island. Mountford’s winemaker is Taiwan-born C.P. Lin who is blind. The story goes
that when Lin was at lunch where the owners of Mountford, Michael and Buffy Eaton, were
dining, he correctly identified the type of cigar Michael was smoking by the smell. Lin
quickly won the job that day in 1997. Lin was blinded by retinoblastoma (carcinoma of the
retina) at age three but was driven to succeed as he grew older. He graduated from the
University of Canterbury with a degree in mathematics. While attending college, he
developed a love for wine through the university’s wine club. This led him to attend
Lincoln University’s viticulture course but could not graduate because his disability
prevented him from completing the practical laboratory work required for a degree. Lin
went on to work in the wine industry, relying on his sense of smell and taste. He was able
to work in the vineyards as well, using touch to prune the vines.
The vineyards at Mountford Estate are planted on steep hillsides to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Planting
started in 1991, the first wines were released in 1995, and a winery was completed in 1998. Yields are
painfully low at 1 to 1.75 tons per acre. Viticulturist Gerald Atkinson manages the 15-acre vineyard which
contains 11 different rootstocks and 17 different clones of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Many individual small
blocks are vinified separately before assemblage into the winery’s estate wines. Eventually, block-designated
Pinot Noirs will be produced from the vineyard. The wines of Mountford Estate have become a cult wine in New
Zealand. Only about 2,000 cases are produced annually and most of it ends up in restaurants or is exported.
2006 Mountford Estate Waipara New Zealand Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $65.
Estate grown and bottled.Imported by Leucadia Cellars & Estates LLC, San
Very fruity nose featuring redder fruits and a touch of oaky
funkiness. Beautiful core of succulent dark red Pinot fruits carefully oaked. Very
silky, even sensual, in the mouth with ample acidity and gossamer dry tannins.
A nicely composed wine with character and charisma.
The winery website is www.mountfordvineyard.co.nz. The wine is sold under the name The Mount
in Australia to avoid confusion with a West Australian producer named Mountford Vineyard. In the United
States, the wine is available at www.winex.com and other retail sources.