Pioneers of Pinot and legends of Martinborough – The founders of the Martinborough wine region have been recognised and honoured at a dinner prepared by a Michelin-starred chef Adam Newell at the Martinborough Hotel.
The four pioneers were honoured for their work in transforming a rural farming community into the dynamic and vibrant wine village that Martinborough is today.
The event recognised the four key early pioneers: Derek Milne (soil scientist) and winemakers Dr Neil McCallum (Dry River), Larry McKenna (Martinborough Vineyard and then The Escarpment Vineyard) and Clive and Phyll Paton (Ata Rangi).
It was Derek Milne who recognised in the 1970s that Martinborough had the temperate climate, low rainfall, and free draining gravel soils, all of which are necessary for quality grape growing and the production of fine wine. His findings were the basis for a soil report on the region, which inspired the other winemakers to establish vineyards and produce wine.
The rest is history. These pioneers played a pivotal role in establishing New Zealand as a serious wine country. Their determination has helped New Zealand to be recognised as a top quality wine producer, on the international stage.
Winemaker and chairman elect of the Wairarapa Wine Region, Wilco Lam, who made the wine at Dry River Wines for many years, has worked in the region for over 20 years, and says the commitment to Pinot Noir is as deep as ever.
“The Wairarapa wine region’s focus today remains as firmly on Pinot Noir as it has been for the past four decades,” he said.
“All of the new generation winemakers are as focussed on making Pinot Noir that can foot it with the best on the global stage, as the four key pioneers we are honouring tonight.”
- The Wairarapa Wine Region makes up 3% of New Zealand’s total vineyard area. Of its 1090 hectares of producing vineyards, 527 hectares planted in Pinot Noir.