Next & future events

Esk Valley Wines, September

We were to be entertained in September by Gordon Russell from Esk Valley. Gordon is described as one of the Godfathers of the wine industry.

Unfortunately, due to the current situation with the Delta variant of COVID19 this month’s Club evening has had to be cancelled. We can’t meet until we are down to Level 2.

While this is disappointing for us all, for your information and interest, the wines we were going to be tasting were largely from Esk Valley’s new range: Artisanal. Wine f.y.i.:

  • Artisanal Hawke’s Bay Chenin Blanc
  • Artisanal Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay
  • Artisanal Hawke’s Bay Gamay Noir
  • Artisanal Hawke’s Bay Syrah
  • Artisanal Gimblett Gravels Malbec Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon

Future events for 2021

  • 13 October – Butterworth Estate, Martinborough with either their Manager Nick Hewitt or Martin Bell their winemaker
  • 17 November – Crater Rim from Omihi Rise, Waipara
  • 11 December  – PLEASE NOTE THIS DATE as it is a Saturday for our Cellar
    Club’s Christmas dinner

Thanks, Editor

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Round the Vines Fun Walk/Run – Martinborough

This event is a Martinborough school fundraiser event and was held on  Saturday 20th March, with participants able to choose their distance, either 10 or 21kms, as well as whether they wished to walk or run.

This was a well-organised event and was followed by live entertainment and prize-giving in Martinborough Square.

This event not only provided a lot of fun and an opportunity to see a little more of Martinborough’s landscape, but it also had the added novelty of the entry fee encompassing wines for you to taste at the many ‘water stops’ along the way.

If you want to know more or want to plan for the next event, I would recommend you go to and keep a watchful eye for the date of the next event.

Here are some photos of this year’s event to whet your appetite.

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Cellar Club 40th year celebration Wine Trip

Cellar Club members celebrating the club's 40th-anniversary wine trip to Wairarapa Feb 2021
Cellar Club members celebrating the club’s 40th-anniversary wine trip to Wairarapa Feb 2021

It was a brilliant day weather-wise, to travel via train, then bus to Martinborough. The three vineyards that were organised for us to visit, thanks to Gayl’s marvellous efforts, were Nga Waka, Tiwaiwaka and Grava/Alana.

We were divided into three groups, with each group assigned to two of the three vineyards to taste at – for ease of the smaller cellar tasting rooms, and the exuberance of the people attending.

Each of the vineyards was fully welcoming and at the Grava tasting room, if you asked, you could taste the Alana version of the wine being tasted, which was great if you were tasting with a partner.


At Grava/Alana where Lunar are the new owners, the vineyards brands are kept very separate. Grava has its vines on the Lake Ferry Road which has gravelly/alluvial soil and Alana’s wines are made from vineyards further in around Martinborough. The wines tasted were:

  • 2018 Sauvignon Blanc – 12 months in oak/12 months in barrel fermented
  • 2020 Alana Pinot Gris
  • 2016 Riesling [also tasted the 2016 Alana Riesling]
  • 2017 Alana Pinot Noir
  • 2018 Pinot Noir
  • 2017 Late Harvest – Sauvignon Blanc harvested mid-May

Nga Waka

At Nga Waka – where the new American owners are stuck in Nevada – the wines tasted were:

  • 2020 Sauvignon Blanc – planted in 1988/89, the first wines made in 1993
  • 2019 Chardonnay – fermented in oak barrels for 10 months
  • 2019 Rose – from Pinot Noir grapes
  • 2018 Pinot Noir


At Tiwaiwaka the tastings were conducted under the branches of a lovely oak tree. The wines tasted were:

  • 2020 Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon Blend – an excellent surprise to start with 2019 Semillon
  • 2018 Rose
  • 2020 Chardonnay
  • 2018 Pinot Noir
  • 2019 Cabbage Tree Pinot Noir – the second favoured tasting for group B
  • 2019 Merlot

Orders were good for all vineyards and many have been delivered directly to members already, with the delivery of the smaller lots being arranged by Wayne and Murray in the coming days.

The bus driver, Craig, was brilliant and was always where he was needed.


Tim Coney welcoming members for a tasting & celebration lunch
Tim Coney welcoming members for a tasting & celebration lunch

Our tasting and lunch at Coney’s was entertaining, with one of the owners Tim Coney regaling us with his stories of the vineyard, his band and his love of opera (which is where the musical names for the wines come from), and life in general in the Wairarapa.

To accompany the wines each table as served with a small platter of food. The wines tasted during this session were:

  • 2020 Rallentando Riesling
  • 2018 Riesling
  • 2020 Ragtime Riesling
  • Piccolo Pinot Gris
  • 2019 Foxy Lady Syrah Rose’
  • 2016 Reserve Pizzicato Noir – a gold medal winner made to go with food
  • 2015 Que Sera Syrah
  • 2020 Ramblin’ Rose Pinot Noir
  • 2020 Sticky Fingers Riesling Dessert – double gold award-winning wine

The lunch was well-received when served. The train trip to the Wairarapa and back was an added highlight for everyone, with many having never travelled that line before.

Thanks to Gayl and Wayne for your efforts in making this event such a memorable occasion.

Finally, if you are interested in viewing the various photos taken on this wine trip, they are on the club’s gallery page.

The Cellar Club 40th Anniversary special – Trip to Martinborough

This is the 2020 timetable and is indicative only. Some minor changes are expected for 2021


  • 45 am, Saturday, 21 March, Wellington Railway Station – meet the rest of the group on the platform that the train leaves from (see the departures board at the station). Train departs Wellington Station at 9.55 am so please be on the platform by 9.45 am so that we can form into a group and hopefully commandeer our own carriage! Tickets (one way or return) can be purchased at the station ticket office or on the train. The cost is $25 same-day return or $19 one way. Tickets bought on the train require payment in cash only. Gold Cardholders can use those.
  • Train arrives at Featherston at 10.55 am. This is where we meet the bus.
  • On arrival in Martinborough, there will be wine tastings at Palliser Estate and Grava/Alana winery from 11.15 am. Palliser Estate will provide a flight of five wines at a cost of $10, refundable with a purchase. Grava/Alana will provide five wines and a sticky also for $10, refundable with a purchase. Group A will go to Palliser first and Group B to Grava and we’ll swap over halfway through.
  • 55 pm – the bus will commence pick-ups at Palliser with Alana/Grava pick-up shortly after that time. Please be ready!
  • It’ll then take us to Coneys for a leisurely lunch from 1.15 pm. We will start with a wine tasting (charge included with lunch cost) which will be accompanied by small taste plates. This will be followed by a lunch that includes two mains plus sides together with petit fours for dessert. A limited amount of wine will be provided with the meal. Please note that if you order any wine over and above that supplied, or tea or coffee this will be at your own expense.
  • The bus will leave Coneys in time to connect with the train at Featherston where it is due to depart at 5.25 pm.
  • 25 pm– scheduled arrival time at Wellington Station.

Some additional points to note:

  • To ensure we keep on schedule and as a courtesy to others please make sure you are ready for the bus on time. It does take a few minutes to get everyone on board and settled before it can move on.
  • Please also see the “Important things to know” sheet for further details.

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Two NZ vineyards make top 50 global list: Central Otago, Hawke’s Bay estates crack top 20

A list of the world’s 50 best vineyards for wine tourism has named a Central Otago and a Hawke’s Bay estate as being among the best, as voted by ‘The World’s Top Wine Tourism Destination Academy‘.

And those two Kiwi vineyards rank in the top 20 in the world in the list out today.

The World’s Best

The global list of wine tourism destinations named Argentina’s Zuccardi Valle de Uco in the top spot for the second year running.

Bodega Garzón in Uruguay was second for a consecutive year and Domäne Wachau in Austria jumped 16 places to claim the third spot this year.

New Zealand’s Best

But Central Otago’s Rippon, on the Wanaka-Mt Aspiring Rd, placed 13th and was also named the best vineyard in Australasia. The Hawke’s Bay’s Craggy Range was 17th best on the list. Last year, the biodynamic Rippon was in eighth place and Craggy Range was 11th.

Rippon, 2020 World's Best Vineyard (13th)
Rippon, 2020 World’s Best Vineyard (13th)

Country: New Zealand
Wine region: Central Otago
Standout points: Jaw-droppingly beautiful views from the shore of Lake Wanaka; stunningly sleek biodynamic wines
Winemaker: Nick Mills
Wine style: Precise, site-specific noble varieties (Pinot Noir, Riesling, Gewürztraminer)

The list said Rippon had “jaw-droppingly beautiful views from the shore of Lake Wanaka, stunningly sleek biodynamic wines” from winemaker Nick Mills and “precise, site-specific noble varieties of Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Gewürztraminer”.

Winter at Rippon
Winter at Rippon

“What makes Rippon one of the most desirable estates in the world to visit? The wines, the views, and the people – in equal measure. Lake Wanaka, an ancient moraine lake, shimmering under the crystal light of a sunny Central Otago day must count as one of the most Instagrammable images on the planet. That Rippon maintains 15ha of vines in this immaculate landscape is wonder enough, but the quality and sense of place of its wholly estate-grown wines gives this little corner of heaven an extra special appeal,” the citation said.

Burgundy-trained fourth-generation Mills and his team were praised along with the organic and biodynamic methods and intensive handwork on display. “Rippon’s cellar door is open for small group tastings by uncharged appointment throughout the year. Expect to enjoy an informal yet informed tasting of some of the best wines of Central Otago as you’re guided through a selection of five or six Rippon wines by a switched-on member of the Rippon team, who will talk you through the farm, the family’s history and if you’re game, the arcane world of biodynamics,” the list said.

Craggy Range, 2020 World's Best Vineyard (17th)
Craggy Range, 2020 World’s Best Vineyard (17th)

@17 Craggy Range
Country: New Zealand
Wine region: Hawke’s Bay
Standout points: Stunning location in the shadow of Te Mata Peak; luxury boutique accommodation; award-winning restaurant
Winemaker: Julian Grounds
Wine style: Multi-region, site-specific wines, everything from aromatic whites to Bordeaux blends, and terroir Syrahs and Chardonnays

On the 17th-ranked Craggy Range, the list said it was in a “stunning location in the shadow of Te Mata Peak, luxury boutique accommodation; award-winning restaurant”. It cited winemaker: Julian Grounds and said wines were “everything from aromatic whites to Bordeaux blends, and terroir Syrahs and Chardonnays.

Terry and Mary Peabody & family
Terry and Mary Peabody & family

“Over the past 20 years, Terry and Mary Peabody have expended every possible effort to make Craggy Range an exceptional visitor experience. Whether it’s the cellar door, inspired by some of the Napa Valley’s leading wineries, the award-winning restaurant with 360-degree views of the local landscape, or Craggy Range’s exceptional boutique accommodation, expect nothing but the best in this beautiful little corner of Hawke’s Bay,” the list said of that operation established in 1998.

“When it came to establishing their vineyards, from the off Terry and Mary pursued an innovative multi-regional approach, focusing on the Gimblett Gravels in Hawke’s Bay, ideally suited to high-quality reds including Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and Te Muna Rd in Martinborough – better for Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc – to produce a range of wines that speak eloquently of their place,” the list said.

“On a typical cellar visit, former New Zealand sommelier of the year Michael Bancks greets guests at the door and begins the tour in the main cellar building, Sophia, where you learn the history of Craggy Range. Then it’s on to the subterranean barrel hall, The Quarry, where you will taste from the estate’s unreleased prestige collection wines still in the barrel.

The award-winning Craggy Range Restaurant
The award-winning Craggy Range Restaurant

“From there, the tour moves on to the restaurant garden in the shadow of Te Mata peak. At the award-winning Craggy Range Restaurant, head chef Casey McDonald has devised a menu inspired by the elements and produced abundantly in Hawke’s Bay. Finally, it’s on to the sun terrace to enjoy a guided tasting of Craggy Range’s diverse multi-region range, with a variety of flight options available to suit each guest’s tastes,” the citation said.

The world’s best vineyards list is based on nominations from a voting academy made up of more than 500 wine experts, sommeliers, and travel correspondents from around the world. It aims to raise the profile of wine tourism and encourage travelers to enjoy wine-related experiences globally.

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Ata Rangi – March 2017

Ata Rangi, meaning “dawn sky” or “new beginning” is a small New Zealand winery with a big reputation for serious Pinot Noir. Located at the southern end of the North Island, it is owned and managed by a family trio – Clive Paton, his wife Phyll and his sister Alison.

Ata Rangi founder Clive Paton

Clive planted his first vines on a small, stony sheep paddock at the edge of the Martinborough village in 1980 as one of a handful of people who pioneered winegrowing in the area. Ata Rangi Pinot Noir is undoubtedly the flagship wine, and in 2010 was honoured with the inaugural Tipuranga Teitei o Aotearoa or “Grand Cru of New Zealand”.

With a skilled team in place, including dynamic winemaker Helen Masters, Clive now has more time to focus on his commitment to conservation and to the Ata Rangi alliance with Project Crimson. More event details early next month.

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Kusuda – A short documentary in the making

Kusuda is to be a short documentary about Tokyo-salaryman turned fastidious Martinborough-winemaker Hiro Kusuda as he navigates his way through the high stakes of vintage.

“Kusuda has been partially funded by the Loading Docs initiative, with support from the New Zealand Film Commission and NZ On Air. But in order to make the film, the film makers need to raise a minimum of an additional $2000 to cover our production costs.

Your support will allow us to hire equipment and cover crew travel costs to Martinborough. And if we’re able to raise more than $2000, we will be able to extend the amount of days we spend with Hiro.

Any help is greatly appreciated!”

              Henry Oliver and Amber Easby

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