Of all the foodie production systems I have a fascination with its wine making. This was first sparked when we visited Cape Town, South Africa on holiday many years ago when we toured the luscious wine region of Stellenbosch. It was during my virgin wine tasting experience I came to understand the technical differences between wines and the romance of growing grapes. Since then of course I’ve come to realise that it’s the romance of wine tasting that eclipses the hard technical graft that goes into growing grapes and making wine.
Whilst dreaming of a place to live in New Zealand we set out heart on Martinborough. I was gutted to drive the Rimutaka Hill Road for the first time and realise that it was just not the commuting option to Wellington we could tolerate and the train service so slow through the hill that our dreams of living in Martinborough were dashed within days of moving to New Zealand. Never mind we’ve found our own piece of paradise that is only 30-40 minutes drive to Martinborough so we can visit often to enjoy the wine making industry doing it’s thing.
Martinborough is a fantastic place to take visitors . You can’t help be impressed by the landscape with the wine and food topping a wonderful kiwi experience. My good friend Sarah has been back to see us for a couple of days bringing with her Steve her partner. Steve’s lived in New Zealand but not been to this part so it was particularly good to be able to go for lunch at one of our favourite vineyard restaurants.
Vineyards have an intrinsic beauty I just love. The lines of vines that snake around the landscape – along the flat and also on the slopes. Positioned to maxmise exposure to the suns rays the vines stand tall and proud along their supporting wires.
It’s the architectural qualities that appeal to me. Shaping nature to benefit production of the grapes and doing it with style and elegance.
When you look up close at the vines themselves you can see the importance of the vine stock which needs to stand strong against all elements. There is something disciplined about growing vines I admire.
The vine infrastructure needs to be well engineered too so that the vines are well supported as they grow.
Close up in the vines themselves is of course where the magic happens. Here are the buds that will deliver their sweet nectar at the end of the growing season.
I’m keeping a close watch on these vines on the internet through the blog of this winery. This is Murdoch James Estate and was the first winery we visited on a cycle tour of Martinborough in January 2007. They have a wonderful restaurant which we’ve visited a few times now and the food, views and service never disappoints. The Pinot Gris we had to drink with lunch was superb – very crisp but with a depth of flavour. Almost every sip brought a new dimension out in the wine that left you wanting for
The wine industry here in New Zealand is facing new challenges as big suppliers have cut back grape growing contracts around the country. Martinborough is rather special though with lots of small vineyards that grow and make their own wines and whilst I’m sure there are plenty of challenges to face every vintage there is a something special about Martinborough as a wine growing region. It has a human scale about it that some of the big wine regions don’t – Marlborough for instance – feels much more like a production industry whereas Martinborough feels more intimate and more accessible.
New Zealand does of course make truly magnificent wines and the Air New Zealand Wine Awards took place a week ago in Christchurch. The public were able to buy tickets to taste the wines which by all accounts was an amazing way of seeing the breadth of wine made in this country. I’ve added it to my must do things to do in New Zealand for the future.
Aside from drinking the wines I just love the wine growing landscape and will continue to enjoy our neighbouring town on the other side of that blasted Rimataka Hill.