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Iconic wine and food festival sold

Hard on the heels of the wine and food festival celebrating its 30th anniversary in November last year, it’s been announced that Toast Martinborough has been sold to Foley Wines.

According to former Toast Martinborough chairman Pete Monk, the move was prompted by a number of hurdles faced by many hospitality businesses in recent years that have been further exacerbated by the impact of covid-19 and unfavourable harvest conditions.

“Toast has been an iconic event in the Wairarapa for three decades. However, the past few years have posed significant challenges,” Monk said.

The Toast Martinborough board had attempted to raise capital from among existing shareholders to address the financial constraints faced by the festival but failed to garner the necessary support.

Existing shareholder Foley Wines offered to buy out the other shareholders and provide the necessary funds to settle outstanding debts with suppliers, a proposal that was unanimously agreed to.

“This outcome hands over custodianship to one of our founding shareholders, meaning the festival is in excellent hands for its next chapter,” Monk said.

For this part, Foley Wines chief executive Mark Turnbull describes the purchase as an exciting move for the business, while stressing a commitment to maintaining the festival’s long legacy – although “ensuring it remains relevant for the future” may mean some tweaking some aspects of the event.

“Based on feedback from festivalgoers, our initial view is that the festival may be better suited to February rather than November, and a Saturday rather than a Sunday,” said Turnball, who stressed “the strategy is still evolving” and that “our team intends to work collaboratively with the community”.

Foley Wines has also stepped in to cover Toast Martinborough’s $5000 pledge to the Martinborough Youth Trust. This will be matched by Wharekauhau Country Estate and Foley Hospitality, with the resulting $10,000 going to the community-driven initiative to build a bike/pump track in Considine Park that’s due to commence this year.

Existing ticket holders for the 2024 event will be contacted directly by Toast Martinborough’s ticketing provider, which will advise next steps and options.

Foley Wines has well-established Martinborough interests in the form of Te Kairanga and Martinborough Vineyard wineries, and the Lighthouse Gin distillery, as well as the recently opened Runholder cellar door and restaurant, in addition to Palliser Bay’s Wharekauhau Country Estate, and Wellington’s Pravda, Shed 5, and Crab Shack.

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