Don’t fancy a stuffy tour bus or bicycling? No problem in Martinborough on the bottom of New Zealand’s North Island. You can walk from vineyard to vineyard straight from the village!
Martinborough has quite a backstory. The streets are laid out in a grid and named after cities of the world, so there’s Naples St, New York Street, Strasbourge St and, well, you get the picture.
It also is as cute as apple pie, with renovated timber streetfronts and a town square that Mary Poppins would approve of.
Martinborough prides itself on its pinot noir. Some say (including Martinborough Tourism) it is the best pinot noir in the world. Some others say the best pinot noir in the “new world”. Either way, it is certainly a big call and is priced to match.
(A trick for young players – don’t confuse it with Marlborough at the tip of the South Island, which produces around eighty per cent of NZ’s wine exports and is priced for eighty percent of the market.)
But back to Martinborough. The wine is too much on the expensive side for me ($19 is a cheap bottle in Marlborough country, and many bottles sold for $45-$70) and lacked fruit for my palate. For example Ata Rangi pinot noir retails around $66, so it’s not everyday drinking (or any day drinking chez my joint!)
All of the wineries we went to only offered paid tastings ($5 for 4-5 wines), but whatever you think of the pinot, it was fun to go on little walk to the wineries from the centre of town and sample some pinot vino.