Pedalling wine in the Wairarapa

Visiting Margrain by cycle

Margrain vineyard, one of many available with tastings on offer.

Ambling along the quiet back street roads of Martinborough by cycle is an excellent way to sample the regions wines. Located slightly off the beaten track in the Waiarapa, this wine village known for Pinot Noir is around an hour’s drive North-East of New Zealand’s capital Wellington.

Drop into any winery and you will find a region map to help you navigate. However the best place to start your journey is at the I-Site located on Kitchener Street. They have information to get you started and two of the local bike operators are based there.

Get a bike

After an extensive google search on my phone we opted to use Green Jersey Cycle Tours to grab our bikes. Stuart, the owner, hooked us up with a couple of internal hub geared machines perfect for ambling along.

The circuit is small, unless you wish to head out to the furthest reaches where you will find Dry River Road and three wineries. If you choose to visit the likes of James Murdoch Winery, then expect to complete around 30km.

But we opted for a slow and leisurely ride around the flat grid that is Martinborough.

Taste wines

The wineries are all listed on the map with small descriptions.

We stopped at several wineries to sample the fermented delicacies. Expect to pay around $5 per tasting. This fee is usually waived if you buy wine.

In our case we paid that fee only at one or two wineries.

Service with a smile

Some of the wineries do a better job of entertaining their customers.  This was surprising as the town is based around wine and the wine buying public. It was disappointing that only a couple of places saw fit to educate us about the region or their products beyond what the vintage’s climate conditions were.

Poppies Winery was a standout exception where we had excellent service. Poppy, who makes the wine, was a delight to have serve us and waxed lyrical each wine and the unique characteristics that she tried to work with. They also do great food should you wish to stop for a platter.

Accommodation

Many of the wineries have guest houses. Waking up to coffee looking out over vineyards is a good way to clear out any dust and enter the new day. Prices vary so there should be something to suit most budgets.

Check out the AA Travel page for one place to search for accommodation.

Author: Christopher Baylis

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