Toast Martinborough celebrates 30 years with Bands, bubbly, new Pinot Noirs and innovative new sites. The bands were pumping, the Pinot Noir flowing and the food was “out of this world” at the 30th vintage of Toast Martinborough Wine, Food & Music Festival, says Wairarapa Wine Region chair Wilco Lam, who says the old festival celebrated with new innovations this year.
The newcomers were collaborations between wineries who shared the same sites, alongside the established wineries on their own home vineyards. This added a new dimension to the old festival. The new sites were called Hunting Giants and Boundary Block.
The first was between winemaker Wilco Lam of On Giants’ Shoulders and Huntress winemaker Jannine Rickards, who poured each others’ wines, shared bands and food suppliers (Tora Collective and Saint Sebastian Restaurant) and created a festival like atmosphere with their teams, including a small stage in a cosy, intimate setting, including library wine tastings.
The second was a larger collaboration between Big Sky Wines, Escarpment Vineyard and the relatively new Stad_Ko Wines. They shared a band, food producers and a large paddock where people danced in the open air and under a marquee.
“Partnering up really speaks to the idea of the Martinborough wine community’s wine village, which is unique in its size and close proximity to other wineries. It worked well because there’s enough similarity and enough complementarity between what different people had to offer,” says winemaker Jeremy Corban, who co-owns Big Sky Wines with Katherine Jacobs.
“We have a strong sense of community in Martinborough and what we offer complements each other rather than competes head on,” says
Long running winery Ata Rangi’s founder Clive Paton says the 2023 festival had a different feel this year in a positive way. “We were very happy because people were dancing straight away and they never stopped. We set our site up to be more spread out than in
previous years, which worked well,” Paton says.
While the weather was blustery and windy (often the way in spring in the Wairarapa Wine Region), it failed to dampen the spirits of slightly reduced numbers, says Ariel Codde, general manager of Toast Martinborough. She originally projected 10,000 people but readjusted expectations due to the events industry being hit hard by the rising cost of living. As a result, she forecast 25 per cent fewer people. Overall, numbers were down but reports were positive from those who took part.
“Ultimately, people want to come and hear great music, drink outstanding wine, especially the Pinot Noir, and enjoy themselves with good food. We definitely ticked all those boxes at the 30th Toast Martinborough this year.” says Lam.