Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Martinborough Wine Region, Wairarapa, NZ

A great benefit of working as an Au Pair is you get the weekends to do whatever you want! The weekend just gone myself and two friends took a short road trip out to the Wairarapa to the lesser known New Zealand wine region of Martinborough. No not Marlborough! It features boutique wineries made up of Artisan wine makers and are typically family owned. Pioneered in 1980 by four guys who planted the first vines on the outskirts of the dying rural village.  The wine from here makes up only 1% of all New Zealand wine produced, that tells you how tiny it is! None the less, I always love to taste wines especially right where the grapes are grown and the wine is made. The region produces Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. It has a warm climate with low rainfall and long, dry autumns. Needless to say they do not have that hot weather that is also great for pinot noir but they are always thinking of new ways to enhance the wine for example using chunks of glass underneath the vines to boost heat and light. (Ata Rangi)

We were lucky enough to have the sun shine on us, it was about an hour and a half drive so we arrived at around 1pm. (Tried for an early start but certain team members didn't get up in time!!) I had booked an apartment which was a struggle to find as Martinborough is small and popular and to find something within a moderate budget was tricky. I eventually found on, a kiwi site. It was in such a gorgeous location with stunning vineyard views. I was very pleased
(and lucky) with my choice! We hired bikes from a lovely lady opposite and set off for an afternoon of wine tasting. Thankfully it was very flat which made for easy cycling and also awesome views!

We started off with one of the first vineyards in Martinborough, Ata Rangi which was beautiful. The staff were very friendly and informative and hugely passionate about what they were doing. Here we tried two different Pinot Noirs, Chardonnay, a nice but quite dry rose and a Sauvignon Blanc. All very tasty although the pinot noir was a bit too dry for me. Other vineyards we visited were Margrain, where we actually tried a Chenin Blanc which is unusual for New Zealand but delicious, Te Kairanga, Colombo and Gladstone (a sub region of Martinborough).  All in all Pinot Noir definitely stood out but there were some lovely, fruity and very easy drinking Pinot Gris and also Reisling, and I would say I liked them over the Sauvignon Blanc which New Zealand is most known for. Martinborough is a beautiful place to visit whether you are into wine or not. It is a tranquil, picturesque, quaint and idyllic small town surrounded by gorgeous vineyards and scenery.

Pinot Noir Grapes


The people here are so down to earth, hands on and passionate about their wines and are clearly working very hard to get them out there and on the map. In fact the owners of Gladstone Vineyard were in the UK when we visited on a mission to make their wines more available across the world. It is not just wine either, there are I think around 5 olive groves too which between them produce a wide variety of oils and other products.  Only a few on the vineyards get their wines overseas but you will find Martinborough wines in the UK albeit not very many. They have a long way to go but they are definitely on the right track! I will be looking out for Martinborough wines when I get home!

Te Kairanga



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