Martinborough, New Zealand
Located near the bottom of New Zealand’s North Island, a winding 1.5hr drive North-East from capitol city Wellington, Martinborough, once home to sheep and agricultural crops, has seen a burgeoning into the wine world. In the late 1970s, a scientific study of the area came out, likening the climate to that of Burgundy. Savvy wine investors started buying up the land and turning it from crops to vineyards.
Martinborough has low rainfall, loose, free draining soils, intense sunlight, warm days and cool nights. All of these factors affect the vines and the resulting wines. And having a wide diurnal range (difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures) ensures a long ripening period, allowing the grapes to reach peak sugar and acid levels and be highly concentrated in flavour. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc are the main varieties grown here, but other varieties can also be found.
Martinborough accounts for only 3% of New Zealand’s growing area but is considered a premium wine producing region. As many of the producers are small scale, it allows them to be as hands on as possible, aiding in the high quality of wines produced.
There are over a dozen boutique wineries in the area, and many outside companies have vineyards in the area, as well. Some notable producers are Palliser, Martinborough Vineyard, Ata Rangi, and MuirLea Rise.
Each November sees Toast Martinborough Food and Wine Festival, where over 10,000 people flock to the small town (home to normally about 1,200) for a day of wine tasting, live music, and excellent nosh.
A stunning region producing quality wines – well worth a visit or hunting down a bottle or two.