Martinborough – a windy wine-filled wonderland

You’ve seen it in the movies. The weekend getaway in beautiful wine country. You drink wine all day. You buy a couple of bottles and then go back to your home for the weekend with friends and drink the wine you bought. All while laughing, pretending to notice the subtle differences in the wines, and taking necessary food breaks along the way. I finally got to experience one such amazing weekend roaming the vineyards of Martinborough in New Zealand. And it was delightful.

The drive up to Martinborough from Hutt Valley (which is only about an hour and a half) was beautiful. All I kept hearing was “oh! This is nothing – not as pretty as the South Island” but take my word for it – these views are plenty pretty on their own. The kind of views that make you so happy you are alive and miserable that you don’t have views like these closer to home, all at once.

The town center is as quaint as you would imagine it. Pictured here is the beautiful Martinborough Hotel. 

Pretty old buildings lined with convenience stores, cafes and wine shops (just in case you forget to buy wine at the many wine stops you make along the way).

My first stop of anything food related was the much needed coffee (I was still tired from the flight the day before) and food pit stop. The locals took me to the Village Café. The food was fresh and delicious. The coffee, my first ever proper cup in NZ, was the great welcome to all the amazing coffee that was going to follow.

A photo wall at the cafe of the many birds that are native to New Zealand. 

For the actual wine stops, here are the ones I stopped by:

Poppies

This place required a reservation. It’s a gorgeous space and they have a restaurant as well. The wines were very interesting and you might hear phrases like “if you like a Sauvignon Blanc, you won’t like this one”. They steer away from the normal. One to look out for is their Riesling – very citrusy and fresh!

That dreamy Riesling in action. 


Margrain

This was our lunch stop. We popped by the cafe and then to the cellar across the way.  And of course, you can have a glass of their finest over lunch or even do a sampler set of their wine at the cafe if you don’t want to do both, cafe and cellar. Genius!

I would recommend the poke belly with Asian slaw. Three of us ordered this and we all loved it. 

The cafe has the most funny signs up and chalk scribbling on the wall. This made for some fun reading over lunch.

Ata Rangi

We got up to this place and then had to leave and come back because they were busy. It’s a small space so can get full. Again, I would call ahead and book some tastings so that you aren’t wasting precious time.

Te Kairanga

I would recommend you keep this place higher-up on your list. Like one of the first places you go to. Not only is there some amazing wine (try and buy, as I did, their Sauvignon Blanc) but it also is very fancy feeling. We were 9, fairly “happy” people that went stomping in towards the end of our trip and maybe disturbed the peace a little. Also, keep your camera ready – you will want pictures of every corner of this shop.

Also, here are a couple of fun tips for when you do a wine tour around Martinborough.

Tip #1: Getting around

Getting around Martinborough can be done by car, bikes or walking. Given I am very against drinking and driving, I would very strongly advise against driving from vineyard to vineyard unless you have a sober driver. Walking, while an option, might be tough given how spaced out some of the stops are.

That leaves us with the most fun option – bikes.  It was SO VERY WINDY that day out in Martinborough…like proper cold winds. And we had 3 individual bikes and one “alligator bike” as they called it for the remaining 6 of us – and that thing was harder to pedal than I thought it would be, especially when the winds were in a crap mood. But know what? All that made for even more laughs!

Tip #2: Time is of the essence

A LOT of places in the southern hemisphere close by 5 pm. Your morning will start out slow – this is my second wine tour done in a day and no matter what, this will happen. You will want to line your tummy with some food and coffee before all the wine. And your first stop, will be your longest because you are so happy to be there and take your time tasting the wines, etc. But remember – you must keep moving. If not, you wont make it to as many stops as you liked!

Tip #3: Try and stay the night and continue the tour the next day

While I did stay the night, we drove out the next morning. It would have been amazing to have given a few more places a whirl. Not that I am being ungrateful for all the wine I did get to try however, given there are just so many places – it would have been fun to try a few more! Also, some of the Air b&b’s and hotels there are to die for!

Again, driving through on the way out of there, the views are amazing. Made me want to buy a house there and never, ever leave.

If you’re looking for a fun weekend out when in the beautiful North Island of New Zealand, stop by Martinborough, I promise you, you wont be disappointed.

Have you gone on any fun wine tasting trips? Where would you recommend I go to next if I could? 

Author: Namrata

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