Wairarapa Wine Country

Wairarapa’s world-renowned wine industry was nearly crushed in infancy. The region’s first vines were planted in 1883, but in 1908 the prohibition movement put a cap on that corker of an idea. It wasn’t until the late 1970s that winemaking was revived, after Martinborough’s terroir was discovered to be similar to that of Burgundy, France. A few vineyards sprang up, the number since ballooning to around 30 across the region. Martinborough is the undisputed hub of the action, but vineyards around Gladstone and Masterton are also on the up. Pinot noir is the region's most acclaimed variety, but sauvignon blanc also does well, as do aromatics and syrah.

Wairarapa’s wineries thrive on visitors: well-oiled cellar doors swing wide open for tastings. Most wineries charge a tasting fee (although many will waive it if you purchase a bottle); others are free. Some have a cafe or restaurant, while others will rustle up a picnic platter to be enjoyed in their gardens. Winter hours wind back to the minimum.

The Wairarapa Visitor Guide (available from local i-SITEs and many other locations) has maps to aid your navigations. Read all about it at www.winesfrommartinborough.com.