Martinborough – Girls Weekend

The sun is shining. Music is playing. Car chats are happening.

Girls weekend has begun.

I was meant to be writing about the Martinborough Fair. I booked the accommodation for this specific weekend so we could attend. I made the booking in April 2020 during our first lockdown. I was foolish enough to believe that one year on, Covid-19 would be a thing of the past. But a community case and a 1 week move into level 2, means that the fair is cancelled. Gatherings of more than 100 people in Level 2 aren’t allowed and The Martinborough Fair attracts thousands. I will have to try again next year!

Even without the fair, South Wairarapa is a pretty cool place, so we decide to go anyway. The first stop is Featherston, at, you guessed it, C’est Cheese. Unfortunately the Drunken Nanny Black Tie Cheese is out of stock. I settle for a Maasdam-Meyer Gouda with a nutty flavour instead.

We spend some time looking around the little boutique shops in Featherston. It’s changed a lot since my childhood. It used to feel a bit tired and rundown but now it is quite transformed.

We arrive in Martinborough at our accommodation, a place I booked on Airbnb and WOW! The place looked good in the photos, but even better in reality. The house is amazing, very modern, comfortable, light, bright and spacious. Almost feels a bit too flash for us!

After settling in and unpacking, we head out for some food. It’s just a few minutes walk to The Square, so we enjoy an easy stroll down the wide flat streets. The Square is busy this evening, there are a lot more people around than I am used to seeing. I think a lot of people have decided to hold onto their accommodation booking just like us, and still have a weekend away. We head to a place called Union Square. I have been to Martinborough many times but never here and I am delighted to find they have a ‘create your own Gin’ menu.

You choose your glass, then your Gin, then your mixer and lastly your garnish. I am pretty new to Gin (Thanks Wharekauhau for introducing me to it!) There is so much choice I find it a bit overwhelming! I go for the ‘Bowl Glass’ That’s an easy decision. Then I choose the Gin. I have had Martinborough’s Lighthouse before (That’s the one I got from Wharekauhau) so I choose Hayman’s London Dry. It’s just the first one on the menu. There are 14 to choose from and really, I don’t know anything about Gin. There are 10 mixers to choose from, I select a grapefruit tonic and for my garnish, I select Passionfruit and Lemon from the list of 6. The end result?

My G&T is enjoyed alongside a caprese salad in the gorgeous garden bar. We find a shady spot, surrounded by roses and climbing vines that amble up the side of the building.

Bliss!

After slipping into holiday mode, we make our way to Martinborough Wine Merchants. They have such a huge selection of local wines, spirits and artisan foods. It’s a great place to have a little wander round and pick up some local products. Now Martinborough produces some world class Pinot Noir’s and it is an excellent place to do some wine tastings (You can read about it in a previous post ‘Cycling the Martinborough Vineyards Part 2’) But, if you are short on time, you might like to check out Wine Merchants (for retail) or if you are wanting to taste a variety of wines under one roof then head to Wine Bank. (I am yet to give this place a go)

Dinner is a delicious selection of local cheeses, breads and spreads, which we eat in the sun room, watching the day fade into evening. I love Martinborough, it’s one of my favourite places. It’s boutique shops, artisan foods, crafts and relaxed country vibes. Every time I come here, I just end up thinking how much I would love to live here.

Cycling the Martinborough Vineyards Part 1

I love Martinborough. My cousins grew up here and I have so many wonderful memories of weekends and school holidays spent on the farm. There was always an adventure to be had and this place will always hold a special place in my heart.

Martinborough has changed quite a bit since my childhood days. It’s still a rural country town but it is now also a hot spot for Wellintonians who can just pop over the hill for a weekend escape. With it’s boutique shops, gourmet food and fresh country air, an indulgent weekend weekend away is easy to achieve.

Oh, and they also (according to my husband) make some of the best pinot noir in the country. So while great food and the outdoors is on the agenda, we are here for a weekend of wine.

Martinborough is in the south of the Wairarapa, about an hours drive from Wellington. Or you can take the train which connects with a bus in Featherston. It’s an easy day trip, but if you have the time, I highly recommend coming for a weekend.

It’s a wet dreary day in Wellington, but in less than an hour, we are heading into indigo sky and green pastures. I have booked us a villa at Margrain Vineyard. We have stayed here a couple of times before. The first time, Daniel surprised me with a weekend trip away….

He booked the Pinot Suite. The place was huge! But all I really remember was eating our $20 fish and chips at the 12 seater burl wood table. We decide that next time it would make more sense to book a cheaper room and have more money for spending on wine.

So that’s what we did. I now do all the travel planning and I am much less extravagant. (Although I write this now, smiling to myself, thinking about a post I will be publishing in a couple of weeks time!)

We stay in one of their villas. The place reminds me a bit of Noddy’s town with it’s brown and blue villas with chapel like towers on each of the rooms. It is certainly a distinct looking place. Our room is light, spacious and has a small balcony overlooking green fields. It is very comfortable and perfect for our weekend getaway.

The room rate also includes a daily continential breakfast as well as a selection of teas, coffee and hot chocolate. They have also placed a selection of their wines in our room.

The Pinot Noir is opened straight away!

With a glass of pinot in hand and a map, I settle in to plan out our wine tasting route for tomorrow. You can download the map, pick one up from the information center, or, in our case, there was one in the room. There are over 20 vineyards and it’s a hard choice. Reading through the little blurbs, they all sound great. Some are only open by appointment or in the summer, so that rules out a few, but I still have a good selection to choose from. I figure if we have a decent lunch, I can probably manage about 4 – 5 places before I can no long ride a bike in a straight line.

To be continued.