Martinborough to toast food as much as wine at annual party
As 10,000 tickets go on sale this morning, Toast Martinborough is giving itself a gourmet makeover.
Taking advantage of the foodie craze inspired by TV shows such as My Kitchen Rules, and to continue distancing itself from past tipsy misbehaviour, the 23rd edition of the popular food-and-wine festival on Sunday, November 16, is emphasising solids almost as much as liquids.
"There has always been a focus on a quality food experience [as well as wine] but . . . it's about how we can take that to the next level," festival director Rachael Fletcher said.
This year's event, which annually draws thousands of Wellingtonians, has a new focus on helping festival-goers develop gourmet skills, with workshops by author/chef Julie Biuso and winemaker Helen Masters on themes such as oyster shucking and matching food with wine.
On the food front, Californian billionaire Bill Foley's offering is perhaps the most comprehensive - it now incorporates Wellington's The Crab Shack and luxury lodge Wharekauhau Country Estate, alongside Martinborough Vineyard, Te Kairanga Wines and Greytown's Lighthouse Gin for the late-afternoon sangria.
But south Wairarapa's star product will not be eclipsed. Wine highlights for punters shuttling their way around the 10 vineyards this year are likely to include a rose made exclusively for Toast by Escarpment, Margrain's bubbles bar, and Ata Rangi's Craighall Riesling.
Musical stand-outs include the 18-piece Wellington Sea Shanty Society, which Fletcher described as a cross between The Pogues and Mumford & Sons, at Tirohana Estate, and the "clever electrofolk" of Sonic Delusion at Dry River.
Sergeant Ian Osland, of Wairarapa, led the policing of last year's event, which he said was generally trouble-free after some drunken disturbances in previous years.
Police were working closely with organisers, vineyards and a private security firm to ensure good behaviour continued, he said. Successful measures used in recent years would return, such as screening for pre-loading, bag-checks, cheaper food and bans on takeaway bottled wine sales.
Police had again applied for a liquor ban in the town square after it proved effective last year in stopping people hanging around drinking after the event. Roadside breath testing would again be prominent, he said.
Tickets go on sale at 9am today via www.ticketek.co.nz, 0800 Ticketek and Ticketek outlets.
For more details, see www.toastmartinborough.co.nz
The Dominion Post