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Wine tasting
Wine tasting


Thursday, November 3, 2005

Martinborough is in Wairarapa and has long been a popular escape from the city.

An area of long sunshine and low rainfall, it is also appealing because of its wonderful wine and all the things that go with that — vineyards, tasting, buying and eating. Everything is boutique-style — the big winemakers are not here, rather a village with 20 small vineyards within walking distance of the charming town square. Its climate and soil are just right for the pinot noir grape, which can be difficult to grow successfully.

Martinborough was founded and named by John Martin in 1881 when he established New Zealand's first sheep station. He planned the streets in a Union Jack pattern and named them after destinations he had visited — Venice, Panama, New York, Suez, Dublin and Oxford. Other street names in the town are reminiscent of the British Empire in its heyday — Grey, Roberts, Kitchener and French.

The town's prosperity is still strongly linked to farming, but the advent of wine growing in the 1970s has increased its economic base and certainly diversified the flavour of the area.

Margrain Vineyard was planted in 1992 by Daryl and Graham Margrain. On a terrace raised above the Huangaroa River which flows around the town's edge, vines thrive in perfect conditions. Varieties include chardonnay, merlot, pinot gris, gewürztraminer, riesling, chenin blanc, botrytis chenin blanc, rosé, cabernet sauvignon-predominant blend and pinot noir. This vineyard has it all — winery, villas, conference facilities and a rustic restaurant.

There are 15 villas, each with one bedroom, large bathroom, sitting area and private balcony overlooking the river valley. Breakfast provisions are provided and extra touches such as heated towel rails ensure a comfortable stay. The vineyard café has children's platters and a play area so adults can enjoy some time off. It also has cellar dining for private functions.

The Old Manse was built in 1876 as Martinborough's original Presbyterian manse and it was just that for 70 years.

Current owners John and Sandra Hargrave purchased the property in 2000 when it was very dilapidated and home to 130 geese. Now it's a boutique B&B with six individually-designed ensuite rooms and a beautiful English-style garden.

Guests enter The Old Manse through a very attractive hallway, off which are the dining, living and billiards rooms. There are welcoming open fires in winter and during warm months, guests can enjoy the spa pool, croquet lawn and a game of petanque.


One hour from Wellington.


Margrain Vineyard and Villas start at $149 a couple. Continental breakfast is included. Wine tasting is $4, which is waived if you purchase wine.

The Old Manse rooms start at $140 and a cooked breakfast is included.

Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.

More information

Margrain Vineyard and Villas
Ponatahi and Huangarua Roads, Martinborough
Ph: (64) 6 306 9292, fax: (64) 6 306 9297

The Old Manse
19 Grey Street, Martinborough
Ph: (64) 6 306 8599; 0800 399 229

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