Raising a ‘Toast’ in the Martinborough Wine Region

A snapshot of Toast in 45 seconds:

This weekend we went to the 25th annual  Toast Festival in the Wairarapa wine region. The weather was a scorcher (some might say a bit ‘toastie’!) and a mere 8,000 wine enthusiasts/ festival goers descended upon this quaint little country town. People were bussed in from Wellington city (about an hour’s drive) and all over the Wairarapa dressed in their glad rags and ready to taste the day away. Campsites, hotels and motels were fully booked months ago and no traffic, other than coaches, was allowed anywhere near the town centre from 7am-7pm on the day. Apparently this year there was an effort to make the festival ‘more dressy, less messy’ and the prices at each winery reflected this. All in all it was quite a sophisticated affair and we were definitely underdressed!

Once you’re in Martinborough and have got your wristband, free tasting glass (and necklace to keep it attached to you), you hop on a shuttle from the main square and make your way to whichever of the 8 wineries that you prefer. When you’re finished there you hop back on the shuttle to your next choice of winery and repeat all day long! We managed to make it around six of the eight wineries; each of them had a different vibe, a variety of artists performing and a range of food being served. We managed to get to our final tasting at our favourite, the Luna Estate, making it just in time before last orders at 4.30pm! Some cheeky chaps tried to cut in in front of me so, in my very British way, I did point out that there was indeed a long queue which they needed to join the back of. Don’t mess with a lady who has a baby in her backpack. Off they went.

It was incredibly well organised, from the ‘festival francs’ wristband payment and top up system, the shuttle buses which transport you to and from the vineyards all day long and the very helpful stewards who encourage you to keep drinking water and applying factor 50! The comprehensive website even provides lots of top tips for first-timer festival goers here. Each year the featured wineries vary slightly. Here is what this year’s circuit looked like:

Despite the website advertising it as a family event, Sophia was one of only four children that we saw at Toast and she attracted a lot of attention, more so as the day went on and people got merrier. People wanted to hold her, dance with her and generally cooed over her all day long- she loved it! We didn’t bother taking the pushchair as it would have been a bit annoying taking it on and off the buses. Instead we shared the load and carried her in the baby carrier all day. It was such a brilliant day out and takes place on the third Sunday of November every year. It is an event not to be missed and we are booking our campsite for next year already!

Official video:

Must -have Festival Baby Gadgets:

  • Hat
  • Sun cream
  • Baby carrier
  • More baby food pouches that you think you will ever need
  • Water bottle
  • Teething powder/gel
  • A dummy on a clip
  • Long sleeved, light weight clothing

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About tripleespresso2go

Jeremy, Katie and Sophia are a family of three from the UK who have a passion for travel, good coffee, music and photography. They are currently based in Penang, Malaysia. Follow their adventures as they taste the finest coffee and photograph their way around the Asia.