The ever-charming village of Martinborough in the Wairarapa region is a wine lover’s paradise.
Not only because of the people, or the wines, or even the reprieve from windy days for the Wellingtonian – it’s also because so many of their cellar doors are accessible on foot or by bicycle. Book yourself to stay the night and you leave your transport worries behind.
A short 75-minute drive from Wellington, to get to Martinborough you first need to brave the dramatic, windy Rimutaka Hill Road. Or, if you’re not feeling that brave, it’s a much calmer train ride. Whether travelling by train, bus or car, you’ll pass through Featherston where you can stock-up on some picnic goodies at the artisanal cheese shop and deli, C’est Cheese.
Before heading southeast to the main event, you may also want to make your way to the cute and colonial Greytown, 12km up the road from Featherston. Here you’ll find some retail therapy by way of Schoc Chocolates, the Olive Press and a number of quirky boutique shops showcasing designer clothing, antiques, interiors and rare books.
If you’ve worked up a thirst from your journeys, the road into Martinborough is framed by wineries where you can pop-in for a quick tasting. Further along in the town square you’ll find a few shops for browsing, cafes, restaurants and bars for refreshment and an adorable park for relaxing. From the square head off down Cambridge Road and you’re on your way.
While home to vibrant aromatics, cool climate syrah, elegant chardonnay and more, the region’s real flagship varietal is pinot noir.
With the mention of pinot noir it’s hard not to draw a comparison to Central Otago, but rather than being ripe and decadent, the pinot of Martinborough is defined by structure, depth and a graceful elegance.
Top Tip: Many cellar doors will even deliver your wines to your accommodation to save you lugging them around.
The region offers plenty to see and do, and world-class wine producers are plentiful, so there is heaps to taste. The single drawback to the region is that so many of those world-class producers are without a cellar door:
Martinborough Wine Merchants in the village centre, thankfully, carries many of these superb producers.
Moving on from where you can’t go, here’s the definite list of places to go, or at least the ones to start with:
Although Martinborough holds the celebrity of the wider Wairarapa region, wine lovers can also explore the newer vineyards of Masterton and Gladstone.
Also, catch-up on our Martinborough winery and winemaker profiles here.