A town with a laid-back village atmosphere has emerged as the hub of this prestigious wine region.

Martinborough launched itself onto the world wine scene with superlative Burgundy style Pinot Noir reds in the 1980’s. That success has spawned a galaxy of satellite wineries clustered around the little town and now spreading to the rolling country surrounding Gladstone and Masterton. This growth has added greater diversity, with a steady flow of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Gris. This region is most famous for it’s award winning Pinot Noir.

Climatic factors have driven the expansion of these small enclaves of top quality wine producers. It is the coolest North Island region and the driest, being sheltered from the prevailing northwesterly winds by the Rimutaka and Tararua Ranges. Most of the 30 vineyards around Martinborough, and also the 10 vineyards in outlying areas are zealously focused on quality. In November each year the ‘Toast Martinborough Wine and Food Festival’ draws thousands of visitors to celebrate the region’s winemaking excellence.

South of the town is the rugged Cape Palliser coast festooned with drowsy seals and quaint fishing villages.

To the north are a string of charming colonial style rural towns brimming with interesting displays of arts, crafts, antiques, paua shell jewellery, and replete with quiet cafes and restaurants. Masterton, the regional centre also has the excellent Mt Bruce Wildlife Centre.

Wairarapa has a wine trail that truly deserves a ‘must see’ rating. It is simply one of the most exciting wine producing areas in New Zealand. The frequent gold medal awards are testimony to how passionate the local vintners are for their calling.

Finish your day with a hearty meal of local venison matched with a bottle of robust Pinot Noir, and wish your glass would never be empty.