Just a short 60 minute drive from Wellington is Martinborough. Although it’s just a short drive, there’s the Rimutaka Hill to conquer first. It’s a real challenge for those who aren’t good car passengers with a history of car sickness (harden up!).
But once you’re there it’s a world away from the city life. A lively and sophisticated, yet sleepy and relaxing place, Martinborough is famous as one of New Zealand’s premier wine districts. Its climate is perfect for it. In summer, this place is a stinker and in winter it’s a freezer. Many of the wineries are world class, including the one we went to on this particular trip.
This correspondent has frequently visited Martinborough since returning to live in Wellington in order to fulfil important family visitation duties, and to relax away from the city. What are the family visitation duties you ask….? Mrs kiwisinoz’s mother now resides here. A great escape from the city for us is often greeted with a hearty home cooked meal and great wine – probably from the neighbours. (See if you can spot the shameless plug later in this post for this correspondent’s mother in law’s business in Martinborough).
An institution in this town is the Martinborough Hotel (no, this isn’t the shameless plug part of the post). On this particular trip I insisted that we pay it a visit and enjoy a couple of cold ones. Truth be known, I’d been to Martinborough a few times but never set foot in the place – a wrong I needed to right. The sophisticated original character of this wooden gem of a building is a great reflection of Martinborough itself.
I eagerly strolled inside to see what craft beer they had on tap. I got a stark reminder that this is a regional town as I saw the Tui and DB Export taps. Initially I was disappointed. But my eyes were then drawn to the Boundary Road Flying Fortress tap. I’m sure this beer has been reviewed before on Back of the Ferry.
A very brief history on Boundary Road – it started in 1987 in the foothills of the Hunua ranges south of Auckland as an independent New Zealand brewery. Then in 2011, it was bought by Asahi.
The Flying Fortress pour had me salivating, a great looking amber ale. Upon taking the first couple of gulps, my first thought was this is big on taste, it was quite bitter, but a nice bitter. The citrus taste then came through. It definitely had me guessing. The taste hangs around as well, it leaves a great impression.
The pizzas we got to accompany the drinks were sensational and was matched by the service of the extremely friendly staff – another reminder that I was in a country town where people take the time to have a friendly chat and the people waiting to be served don’t get shirty.
There ends another weekend escape to wine country. It’s only an hour away and there’s always family visitation requirements, so we’ll be back here regularly (i.e. a home cooked meal, winery visit, and of course the Martinborough Hotel – not bad!).
As part of your time in Martinborough, there’s a pretty amazing shop that every visitor must check out – Jessica’s Living Room. I kid you not – buy something for the mrs in here and you’ll earn plenty of points – enough for an unplanned impromptu night out with the lads even! What’s ever better is that this shop is directly opposite the Martinborough Hotel. So for a win-win situation, simply send the mrs to Jessica’s Living Room while you duck across the road for a few – and it will be a few because the mrs will be in there for hours!
From New Zealand………Ka kite anō.
PS Did you spot the shameless plug?