Springtime Wine Tasting in Martinborough

With inspirational scenery, gourmet cuisine, and internationally renowned wine, New Zealand is a dream destination. If it’s on your bucket list, be sure to plan a stop in the southeastern region of the North Island. Just a short drive from Wellington and across the Remutaka Pass lies the Wairarapa, a region of big skies, wide valleys, and small towns full of character. Some of New Zealand’s most premium wine is produced in Martinborough, a wine village in the Wairarapa at the heart of the classic New Zealand Wine Trail. Don’t forget to pack your wine suitcase; you’ll want to take some bottles home. The region’s climate, made up of warm days and cool nights, combined with hot summers, dry autumns, and just the right amount of spring rain, is simply perfect for creating exceptional wine. Best known for its world-famous Pinot Noir, Martinborough is home to some of the most well-known, award-winning, and easily accessible cellar doors available for wine tasting.

The Best Way to Wine Taste in Martinborough is on Two Wheels

The Martinborough wine village is so small that most wineries are close enough to bike or walk to. In town, you can rent bikes for the day from the Martinborough Wine Merchants. Pick up a free map with descriptions of each winery and head out for a delightful day of wine tasting. Bikes for hire at the Wine-Merchants

A Few of Our Favorite Cellar Doors in Martinborough

Ata Rangi

Gourmet Traveller Wine recently awarded Ata Rangi’s winemaker, Helen Masters, the 2019 NZ Winemaker of the Year. Gourmet Traveller says, “not to drop by Ata Rangi on a visit to Martinborough would be akin to visiting the Louvre and missing the Mona Lisa.” We couldn’t agree more. One of Martinborough’s finest wineries, Ata Rangi offers a sophisticated and highly approachable collection of lifestyle wines creating connections with informed wine lovers. With 13 vineyard sites around Martinborough, surprisingly just over half are pinot noir. Biodiversity and sustainability are essential to Ata Rangi grape growing and wine-making operations. The 2016 Pinot Noir, their flagship wine, a fruity, velvety vintage with notes of juniper and cranberry, is made from grapes picked from a variety of their vineyards. Ata Rangi whites and cheese The winery welcomes visitors daily by appointment at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm for a personalized tasting in their cellar door. Contact them at visit@atarangi.co.nz Address: 14 Puruatanga Road, Martinborough Atarangi.co.nz +64 6 306 9570

Schubert Wines

[caption id="attachment_38083" align="alignnone" width="1100"] https://www.facebook.com/SchubertWines/[/caption] Owners Kai Schubert and Marion Deimling conducted a world-wide search for the perfect conditions for viticulture before settling in Martinborough. Now Schubert Wines are well recognized around the world. For the past 20 years, the unique climate has produced low yields, allowing their passion and attention to detail to create wines with intense complex character and a sense of terroir. The new world 2016 Pinot Noir from Marion’s Vineyard offers luscious, deep-fruit aromas of red cherries and raspberries. Address: 57 Cambridge Road, Martinborough Schubert.co.nz +64 6 306 8505

Martinborough Vineyard

[caption id="attachment_38099" align="alignnone" width="1936"]Martinborough-Vineyard carry wine home https://www.facebook.com/martinboroughvineyard/?tn-str=k*F[/caption] The 2016 TeTera Chardonnay from Martinborough Vineyard represents what you might come to expect from an iconic, artisan producer committed to crafting authentic expressions of the Wairarapa growing region by using sustainable farming methods. This chardonnay shows aromas of ripe stone fruits with hints of butter and creamy notes. Established in 1980, this winery is one of the oldest in the region, the first to plant pinot noir, and a pioneer of land preservation. The cellar door, now located at the Te Kairanga Cellar Door, is open 7 days a week, 11 am to 4 pm. With two fine wineries in one cellar door, visitors get double the fun. Address: Martins Road, Martinborough Martinborough-vineyard.co.nz +64 6 306 9122

Palliser Estate

[caption id="attachment_38084" align="alignnone" width="870"]Palliser Estate https://www.facebook.com/PalliserEstateWines[/caption] One of the larger wine producers in the region, Palliser Estate is open daily from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm for premium wine tasting. In the summer months, you can order gourmet platters to accompany your wine experience. A beautiful courtyard and cellar door welcome all visitors. Wine servers are friendly and knowledgeable. We sampled several varietals, but our favorite was the 2019 Palliser Estate Rosé. We found it fresh and elegant with fragrant aromas of strawberries, raspberries, and cream. Address: 96 Kitchener Street, Martinborough Palliser.co.nz +64 6 306 9019

Wine Bank

the wine bank When you’re done touring, but still want to do more wine tasting, the Wine Bank, just across from Martinborough’s Memorial Square, is the place for you. Housed in the former Bank of New Zealand building, the Wine Bank is a real haven for wine fans. With more than 60 varieties of local and imported wines, guests can pour a taste, a half glass, or a full glass from self-service, state-of-the-art wine dispensing machines. Sit back on comfy couches or overstuffed chairs, relax, and enjoy your tasting experience. Address: 1-3 Memorial Square, Martinborough Thewinebank.nz +64 6 216 8276

Where to Eat in Martinborough

Where there’s good wine, there’s often gourmet food and Martinborough is no exception. In addition to several in-town choices, many of the wineries also offer food.

Margrain Vineyard

Margrain Vineyard Set in the heart of the Martinborough wine region, this winery’s restaurant, The Vineyard Café, serves breakfast and lunch Wednesday through Sunday. Hours change seasonally. Guests can sit outside overlooking the vineyards, or inside in the cozy restaurant. We sampled the Margrain wines while enjoying our lunch by ordering a flight of five wines from the menu. Address: Corner of Ponatahi and Huangarua Road, Martinborough TheVineyardCafe.co.nz +64 06 306 8333

Luna Estate

[caption id="attachment_38086" align="alignnone" width="2016"]Luna-estate https://www.facebook.com/LUNAESTATE.CO.NZ/?tn-str=k*F[/caption] Luna Estate’s secluded, yet intimate winery features a cellar door and a kitchen offering Asian inspired dishes. The dumplings on their sharing menu are popular with diners, but the vegetable pancakes and curry chicken were also delightful. Landscaped gardens and the spacious, elevated patio provide a stunning setting to taste and enjoy their classic cool climate wines. Address: 133 Puruatanga Road, Martinborough LunaEstate.co.nz +64 6 306 9360

Tirohana Estate

View of Tirohana Winery and Restaurant in the Evening For fine, yet casual dining, the Chaine de Rotisseurs Restaurant at Tirohana Estate Winery should not be missed. Reservations are required for their three-course fixed price dinner menu. Soft lighting, gentle background music, and a glowing fireplace greet you in their French provincial dining room featuring intimate seating at white linen-covered tables. A courtesy shuttle bus is available to transport you to and from your dining experience. Address: 42 Puruatanga Road Tirohanaestate.com +64 6 306 9933

Where to Stay in Martinborough

Martinborough Hotel

Martinborough Hotel The Martinborough Hotel, built in 1882 and fully restored in 1996, sits directly across from the village square. Lovingly decorated rooms, named after the region’s early pioneers, reflect the history of the hotel while providing modern comforts. An upscale restaurant, gin bar, and pub serving casual fare, are all part of the hotel. Address: 10 Memorial Square, Martinborough +64 6 306 9350 MartinBoroughHotel.co.nz

The Prodigal Daughter Gourmet Lodge

The Prodigal Daughter Gourmet Lodge, recently opened by globetrotting chef Rachel Priestley, offers intimate accommodations in her pretty villa just a short stroll from the town center. Guests can choose from four uniquely decorated rooms that reflect her years of living abroad. The comfortable backyard setting will make guests feel right at home. For a truly gastronomic experience, book in for dinner during your stay. Gourmet packages are available on request. Canapes and a glass of local wine in the evening, and daily continental breakfast are included in the nightly rates. Address: 9A Cologne Street, Martinborough Prodigaldaughter.co.nz

If You Go Wine Tasting in Martinborough

Wine Tasting in Martinborough Anytime in Martinborough is a good time to visit, but we’re here in springtime and the scenery is gorgeous. Flowers bloom all around us. Bud burst has started as the vines are awakening from their winter slumber and the crowds haven’t swelled in this tiny wine village yet. You might even get to meet the winemaker when you visit smaller producers. Just be sure to bring your wine suitcase. These top of the line Pinot Noirs will age for several years and you’ll want to safely take some home. By Pamela and Gary Baker
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