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Toasting a new format

Iconic Wairarapa event Toast Martinborough has unveiled its new format, following the financially embattled festival being bought by Foley Wines in February.

At the time of the sale, Foley Wines chief executive Mark Turnbull noted that ensuring the event “remains relevant for the future” might mean tweaking some aspects of its format, including the possibility of shifting it from its traditional Sunday in November to a Saturday in February.

However, the company has now announced the event will be relaunched on Sunday, January 19 next year, and will feature the new hours of 11am to 7pm.

This date falls in the middle of the three-day Wellington Anniversary weekend, scheduling that is intended to give the thousands of Wellingtonians who attend the festival each year “an extra day off to enjoy the best that Martinborough has to offer”, the event organisers said in a statement.

There will also be “a line-up of events planned to complement the main festival on Sunday” that runs from Friday, January 17 to Monday, January 20, so visitors can “extend the festivities for an unforgettable long weekend getaway”, although only the return of the Lighthouse Gin Garden Party on Saturday, January 18 has been confirmed so far.

What has been confirmed is that winery Poppies Martinborough will be participating in the event for the first time in 2025, joining Ata Rangi, Tirohana Estate, Luna Estate, Moy Hall, Palliser Estate, Te Kairanga, and Martinborough Vineyard.

Food will be provided by Egmont St Eatery, Tirohana, Trestle & Mortar, Plonk, Graze, Moy Hall, Colombo, Rose & Smith, and The Runholder, and local beers will be served by Garage Project, Choice Bros, and Parrotdog. Live music will be performed by The Relatives, The Satisfactions, and Shaun Preston, among others.

A Toast App with a full programme will be released three months before the event; in the interim, more information – including the opportunity to become an email subscriber to the event – is available via www.toastmartinborough.co.nz. Email subscribers will have the opportunity to buy pre-sale tickets from 10am on Wednesday, June 12, with tickets available to the general public from June 19.

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

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.

Founding shareholder Foley Wines – already well established in the region thanks to Te Kairanga and Martinborough Vineyard wineries, the Lighthouse Gin distillery, and the Runholder cellar door and restaurant – 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.

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