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A toast to Toast

Dapper wine-lovers check out the vineyards in Martinborough. PHOTO/MIKE HEYDON


One of the biggest events on Martinborough’s calendar is set to go ahead tomorrow, drawing in wine tasters and gulpers from around the country, and even across the ditch.



Like a fine wine, Toast Martinborough seems to be getting better with age.

In its 26th year, the annual festival is still going strong, attracting people from afar to get a taste of what Wairarapa does best.

This year’s event, to be held tomorrow, is a celebration of the region’s wineries, produce and food producers.

After a long and cold winter, the event would be a warm welcome to the festive season and sunshine ahead, with Toast Martinborough’s general manager Anna Nielson crossing her fingers for clear skies.

Toast was attracting people from “all over the place”, including from across the ditch.

The wine mile will be packed with visitors waiting to test Martinborough's best. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN
The wine mile will be packed with visitors waiting to test Martinborough’s best. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN

Anecdotally speaking, Ms Nielson said about 75 per cent of festival goers were from the greater Wellington area, about 10 per cent from Wairarapa and the remainder from outside the region.

Ms Nielson knew of people that would be attending from Canberra, as well as from Canterbury to Whangarei.

“It’s awesome,” she said.

“It’s an event that is appealing to a wide range of people, and probably because of the international reputation that our winemakers have from here, particularly for their pinot noir.

“It’s a drawcard for people to come and savour and taste that very special premium wine.”

When tickets first went on sale, there was “an immediate surge” from local purchasers.

Residents of the region had in recent years displayed a “renewed interest” in the event, Ms Nielson said.

Tickets could be purchased at the gate on the day so Wairarapa people who decided to attend the festival at the last minute did not miss out, she added.

Last year, when the festival celebrated its silver anniversary, a few changes were introduced.

Glassware was ditched for a safer alternative, and festival goers paid their way through vineyards with electronic chip wristbands onto which they pre-loaded money.

Relatively recent changes to the Health and Safety Act and Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act had seen more regulations introduced to the festival.

“But that doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun.”

Ms Nielson said the aim was to find a balance between having a good time and playing by the rules.

This year, all support and emergency services would be hubbed together at a control centre based at the Martinborough Fire Station.

Senior Sergeant Mike Sutton said police would be working closely with the organisers and event security to ensure everyone stayed safe on the day.

He said festival goers should plan their day and ensure they could return home safely.

People needed to “look out for their mates” and make sure they had a good time without “going too far” drinking-wise.

“We have been working closely with Toast Martinborough organisers and the vineyards involved to ensure the day is well planned out and goes smoothly on November 19.”

Ms Nielson said tickets sales had been “really good” and seats on public transport were drying up quickly.

Following this year’s event, live entertainment will be offered in The Square, to which everyone is invited.



Toast top tips

People wait at the Toast Martinborough bus stop as an Almighty juice mobile salesperson rides by. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN
People wait at the Toast Martinborough bus stop as an Almighty juice mobile salesperson rides by. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN

– Drink lots of water: Keep hydrated all day, whatever the weather. All vineyards offer free water.

– Wear comfortable shoes: Vineyards are within walking distance, and some vineyards have long driveways.

– Wear layers and bring sunscreen and a hat: Spring weather is changeable.

– Plan your day: Choose the vineyards you wish to visit. With amazing food, wine and music being offered at each vineyard, you won’t have time to visit them all.

– Don’t worry about how much money you pre-load on your Toast wristband: You can get a cash refund in The Square at the end of the day.

– Leave valuables at home: It’s not worth the heartache if you lose them.

– Familiarise yourself with where your bus dropped you off: It is more than likely that will be the place you’ll need to get back to to catch your bus back home.

– Decide on a meet up point with friends before you head out to the vineyards: Just in case you or a buddy falls off the map.


Participating vineyards

Ata Rangi, Dry River, Luna Estate, Muirlea Rise, Margrain Vineyard, Te Kairanga & Martinborough Vineyards, Tirohana Estate, Vynfields Organic Wine


Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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