Sylvain Taupenas Sylvain Taupenas CREDIT: Muddy Water

New assistant winemaker for Muddy Water

Tuesday 31 August 2010, 3:09PM
By Muddy Water


Muddy Water is proud to announce that Sylvain Taupenas has been promoted Assistant Winemaker. 

Sylvain is our latest team member. Born and raised in France near the Swiss border, he initially trained as sommelier and Chef. Sylvain used to work in top restaurants in France and Switzerland (Marc Veyrat, Paul Bocuse, l’Ambroisie, Lenotre….).

He came to New Zealand in September 2006 to have a break for a year, and has remained. He travelled around New Zealand for several months before settling in Christchurch where he worked at Saggio di Vino as a sommelier.

He learnt a lot about NZ and Australian wines working at Saggio’s. “It was very hard to find NZ wine in Europe, especially in France.” He tried lots of wines to improve his knowledge. At Saggio’s he was responsible for the improvement of the wine list.

After meeting Jane and Mike East in early 2007, Sylvain helped at Muddy Water as a volunteer for the 2007 & 2008 harvests. This was a great opportunity for him to get to understand the whole winemaking process. “I have been only at the end of the line (pouring wine to the customer) but never at the beginning.”

This is where Sylvain met Belinda, at the beginning communication was difficult, but some handmade pain aux chocolate and a few beers from the Brew Moon smoothed the way to a great working relationship.

Sylvain began working full time at Muddy Water in October 2008 where he shares his time between the winery and the vineyard. “It’s great to have this kind of flexibility in my job. I learn a lot in the vineyard and in the winery; I am not focused only in one job.”

Sylvain has also been studying toward a certificate in winemaking and viticulture through the EIT to increase his understanding of the whole winemaking process.

2009 was his first full time vintage in Waipara. “It was hard but happy, interesting and challenging.”

Late 2009 he headed to Oregon for the vintage, and worked there for 3 months for a small winery. He had the opportunity to work with consultant winemaker Dominic Lafon (Burgundy’s guru) and Isabelle Meunier, the head winemaker.

2010 brought his second vintage at Muddy Water “So easy this year J”. He plans to go to Oregon again for the 2010 vintage. On his way he will represent Muddy Water at the launch of Complexity USA in Denver.

“Complexity is a joint venture between the NZ Government and 21 selected wineries to promote the very best NZ wines to high-end restaurants and wine outlets in the USA, so Sylvain with his knowledge of the restaurant business is the perfect person to represent Muddy Water” said winery owner, Jane East.

Before he leaves Sylvain and Belinda with be joining forces with Hay’s owner and chef, Celia Hay, for a special dinner on September 8th where they will present not only current release wines but some special older vintages as well. As Sylvain says, ”it’s not just about wine – without food wine is just another drink – it’s with food that wine becomes really special”.