Martinborough and the Wairarapa
New Zealand’s relatively recent successes with red varietals owe much to the early work of settler and vintner, William Beetham, who first planted Pinot Noir and Shiraz vines in the Wairarapa region, just north of Wellington, in 1883. Beetham himself was eventually sent packing by prohibitionists and would, no doubt, be somewhat surprised by the turn of fortunes the area has enjoyed, thanks to wine, since viticulture was reintroduced to the region in the 1970’s.
The Martinborough and Wairarapa area has made its name internationally with its Pinot Noir, full bodied and ripe, a far cry from the flinty Pinot Noirs of the Otago region much further south. Specialist vineyards are found around the tiny township of Martinborough where the climate is more akin to Marlborough than any of the other North Island wine districts, accounting for the region’s other success story, Sauvignon Blanc.