New Zealand’s wine festivals are sunny days of partying non-stop and sampling wine, food, music and the joy of life New Zealand style. I did Toast Martinborough recently, and it rocked! There’s another major festival coming up in February, this time in Marlborough, the country’s biggest wine region. What’s not to like?
Up to 8000 wine and food lovers are expected to descend on Marlborough. The annual party, this year on Saturday February 11, will be held at Brancott Estate where festival goers will get the opportunity to sample wines from 46 vineyards and local foods all in the heart of one of Marlborough’s oldest vineyards. For the wine aficionados there are two wine tutorials from the region’s leading winemakers and viticulturists, and for the budding fashionistas the Fashion in the Vines competitions. Judges this year are New Zealand’s top footwear designer Kathryn Wilson and fashion designer Adrian Hailwood.
Music entertainment is provided throughout the day by some of New Zealand’s top performers, including Hello Sailor, fronted by Graeme Brazier, Dave McArtney and Harry Lyon, who will join Dane Rumble and Tahuna Breaks. Tickets are $NZ48 + booking fee ($NZ2) and can be purchased from TicketDirect. Your festival ticket gets you entry into the festival site, a festival souvenir glass, a program booklet and a full day of entertainment. For those Under 18, a ticket is still required and a special ID bracelet will be administered at the entry tent. Children under 10 are free.
Buses are provided all day from town to the festival site, from Blenheim, Renwick and Picton. But these aren’t free. The bus from Picton costs $NZ30 for a round trip. Some of the top wineries participating include: Highfield Estate, Wither Hills, Cloudy Bay, Hunter’s , Mud House, Wairau River and Saint Clair Estate.
Marlborough is synonymous internationally for its distinctive, herbaceous sauvignon blanc. It is New Zealand’s largest winemaking region with around 110 wineries and 450 grape growers and over 12,000 hectares planted in grapes, mainly sauv blanc, chardonnay, riesling, pinot noir, pinot gris and gewurztraminer.
Marlborough is also known for its idyllic Marlborough Sounds – sunken valleys which create a network of tranquil clear waterways amidst regenerating and virgin native forests. The Sounds are home to native bird and sealife and terns, shags, herons, blue penguins, dolphins, seals, all easily viewed by private boat or charter tour. The renowned 71km Queen Charlotte Track, a 3-4 day walk, curls around these coves and inlets and along skyline ridges between Kenepuru and Queen Charlotte Sounds.
Blenheim regularly claims the highest sunshine hours in New Zealand, and has low rainfall. Each season in Marlborough has its distinct appeal: summer brings long warm days and stunning evenings; autumn promises clear, still days, a blaze of vineyard colour, and is one of the best times to explore; winter is short and may bring a spectacular rim of snow on the distant high country mountains; spring arrives with a sudden burst of cherry blossom. www.facebook.com/marlboroughwinefestival