It’s probably true to say today that Martinborough’s identity revolves around its vineyards and award-winning wines, but in the town’s 138-year history its economy has had many ups and downs – survival was a struggle right from its inception. The planting of vines in 1979 was also the planting of the village’s future, helping it to grow from a struggling rural support town to a vibrant ‘must visit’ destination in the Wairarapa, indeed in the lower North Island even.
We have lived in Martinborough since 2005, after moving from Auckland to run a vineyard café we had purchased the lease on. As relative hospitality novices, this was perhaps not the smartest move; we could have just rented a house and moved here to live, but the easy way has never been our way for some reason.
We survived the initial year of intense learning and then gradually acquired a reputation as being the ‘must-go-to’ vineyard café in town over the next four years, before we sold it in 2009.
We then packed ourselves into a motorhome and travelled extensively around New Zealand with our magazine title RV Travel Lifestyle, often being away for six weeks at a time exploring down every road, village, town and city around our beautiful country. One of our most common questions to each other as we travelled was “would we want to live here?” The answer has been no to just about everywhere else – for some reason Martinborough really has become the perfect spot for us.
It is located only 75km from Wellington, which for us means not far to the airport for both domestic and international travel, or for getting on the ferry to head south in the motorhome, or to the Wellington shops.
Today Martinborough is well known world wide for the top-quality boutique wines it produces, winning world recognition for the Pinot Noir that excels here, as well as others. Luxury accommodation and Home Stays have flourished to support the wedding industry, local conference groups, and the international and local tourists who come to explore the small area every year. With a micro climate that offers boutique wine tastings at over 15 vineyards within a 6km area, it has become hard to resist for many Wellingtonians – and also overseas visitors – as many of the houses in the village are now owned by them as holiday homes or ‘baches’.
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