Pinot Pioneers event on 27 July 2023, Martinborough, New Zealand – One of New Zealand’s leading wine regions will celebrate its Pinot Noir pioneers and innovative newcomers this month in Martinborough, in the heart of Wairarapa Wine Region.
Pinot Noir professionals will gather to celebrate those who pioneered winemaking in the region and forged its strong international reputation for Pinot Noir.
The highlight of the two day celebration will be a degustation dinner prepared by Michelin star chef Adam Newell, who trained at London’s Le Gavroche restaurant, which had three Michelin stars at the time. Adam and Nic Newell named their Martinborough restaurant Union Square; after the eponymous square in Martinborough, which is laid out in the shape of the Union Jack.
Leading New Zealand wine communicators will converge on the small town to visit wineries, taste an extensive line up of the region’s Pinot Noirs and celebrate both the old and new.
The Wairarapa Wine Region makes up 3% of New Zealand’s total vineyard area, 1% of the country’s wine production and 8% of its wine producers. The current producing vineyard area covers 1090 hectares; 527 devoted to Pinot Noir, 394 to Sauvignon Blanc, 62 to Chardonnay, 47 to Pinot Gris and 60 hectares to 23 other varieties, including Chenin Blanc, Riesling and Syrah.
Pinot Noir wines from the Wairarapa are from low cropping vines due to strong winds at flowering, which creates small crops of distinctive Pinot Noirs with structured tannins.
The Wairarapa is one of the world’s leading Pinot Noir regions, thanks to its majestic hillsides, stony soils, dry sunny days and windy weather patterns.
Martinborough is the heart of the Wairarapa and is a small village. It was founded by and named after the early landholder, John Martin, who established the town in 1879.
It took another 100 years for the first vines to be planted. This happened in the late 1970s when soil scientist Derek Milne returned from Europe and become one of the founders of wine in the Wairarapa, forming Martinborough Vineyard with other key people, including Russell Schulz.
They were swiftly followed by other early ground breakers. These include the founders of Dry River Wines, Ata Rangi and Chifney Wines; respectively Dr Neil McCallum, Clive Paton and the late Stan Chifney. Larry McKenna was also an early key player, who began making wine at Martinborough Vineyards in 1984.
Three Geographic Indications
The region has three registered geographic indications (GIs) Wairarapa Wine Region, Gladstone GI and Martinborough GI. Martinborough is the largest in terms of land planted in vines and includes Te Muna Valley, which is nine kilometres east of the village with similar soils but higher elevation, cooler night time temperatures and stronger winds.
The region is 90 minutes’ drive from Wellington city over the Remutuka Ranges, which provide a dramatic backdrop to the west while a range of hills known as Nga Waka a Kupe provide a buffer to the east, lying side by side and representing, in M?ori legend, the upturned canoes of the M?ori explorer, Kupe, who is said to have been the first to discover New Zealand.
Pinot Pioneers Key Details
Vineyard tours and winery visits will be followed by a blind tasting of the region’s leading Pinot Noirs and the Pinot Pioneers degustation dinner with local produce by Chef Adam Newell.
Pinot Noir is the leading red grape in New Zealand, making up 73% of red grape plantings nationwide.
The Wairarapa is a leading region for Pinot Noir, which makes up nearly 50% of the planted vineyard area.