What a day, what a festival!

More than 7000 people supped wine, sampled Marlborough cuisine and basked in the glorious weather at the "best ever" Wine and Food Festival on Saturday.

Marcus Pickens, general manager of festival organiser Wine Marlborough, said the crowd at Brancott Estate, near Blenheim, had been very well behaved and he was stoked with how things had gone.

"I think it is the best event yet, it will be hard to top."

Police operation commander Inspector Ross Lienert said the arrests over the festival weekend were well down on last year and police were very pleased with revellers' behaviour.

There was a greater emphasis on food this year with The Culinary Pavilion and the Festival Quarter showcasing Marlborough cuisine. The festival organisers had specifically targeted an older demographic, Mr Pickens said.

"This year was much more about the food. We wanted to get rid of the music with a heavy vibe, we did not want a mosh pit at the front of the stage. We had a vision and I feel like we pulled that off."

The number of people attending was slightly up on last year,

More than 60 wineries and 25 food sites were at the festival this year, Mr Pickens said.

Donna Wells, who ran a seafood stall, said she had sold 600 servings of scallops over the course of a "very very good day".

"We sold out of everything apart from pies and some sweet truffles."

They won the people's choice award for their match of seafood ceviche with a gruner veltliner from Saint Clair Family Estate.

The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra closed the festival and had people singing along to their mellow, sunshine songs.

Willy Hammond, 29, of Nelson, said he enjoyed the group's music, particularly when they played a track by Kenny Rogers.

"In terms of food and wine it has been a fantastic year," he said.

His Canadian girlfriend, Kristen Slauenwhite, said she was very impressed with the event.

"This exceeds what I was expecting from such a little town."

Fashion designer Emma Wilson, 28, said she had enjoyed the music but wished it had been a bit better to dance to.

The crowd had been very well behaved, she said.

"I think a lot of people knew it was going to be hot so they were careful about how much they drank, which is good."

The revelling rolled over into Saturday night with Scotch Wine Bar and Cornerstone Restaurant and Bar hosting festivities for people who wanted to keep partying.



The Marlborough Express