Last Sunday Matt and I had the most magical day out in the Wairarapa at Toast Martinborough.
Although I had been twice before in the past (and worked once in 2009), I was truly overwhelmed by what a lovely day we had. I am super familiar with the Wairarapa now (Matts parents live there) but I had never done a Toast Martinborough with Matt before. Would we get sick of each other spending all day together? Luckily not! We also bumped into all our friends at different vineyards all-day-long. But mainly I enjoyed a lovely day together amongst the vines. It truly was the best day together in aaaaaages.
Wearing my favourite Arabesque dress by Wellington designer Wilson Trollope (check out my interview with them in October here) plus a large straw sun hat, we set off bright and early at 8am and finished the day around 4:30pm.
I know Toast Martinborough's organiser's really wanted to shake the boozy reputation that had crept up on the festival. Not only did they succeed but it was a hugely enjoyable day for everyone. The Sun even was on its best behaviour!
Here are my 6 reasons why I thought the day was a smashing success:
1. The train up
The day began with Matt and I dancing along the waterfront to the train station. We arrived bang on time and found ourselves a spot where I could look out the window. As a Wairarapa boy, the train is old for Matt. But for me, I love catching the train to and from the Wairarapa. It makes me feel like I am going on an adventure and with our cute straw hats, it felt like being in an Enid Blyton novel. Out the window, we saw the warships in the harbour and the rolling green field and blue skies of Wellington's countryside. What a lovely way to start the day!
2. The safe, helpful vibe
The first thing that struck me on arriving in Martinborough Square was how many hosts there were in orange tops on hand to help. It was great that there were so many easily recognisable people who were all on hand to help us enjoy the day. Even the police were on hand to avoid any ruckus (they were jolly and not at all invasive). The result was I saw no one misbehaving and everyone just looked happy and chilled. Never underestimate people power. Huge thanks to all the people who made the day amazing, helping out on each vineyard. You rock!
3. The amazing food
This year had some standout food! While my first pit-stop was Dry River vineyard to try Capitol/WBC's menu, my hands down favourite was the Crabshack and Shed 5 stand at Martinborough Vineyard. I had the best soft shell crab taco and calamari I'd ever eaten in my life. Under the shade of a large leafy tree on soft green grass, we chowed down on this succulent delight. It was lovely to see more Wellington restaurants back at Toast this year, along with the tried and true Ruth Pretty Catering. While it may be all about the wine, Toast Martinborough's food absolutely shone this year.
4. The incredible wineries
Ah, the wine. The true star of the show. We had a delicious meander around, starting at Dry River, moving to Tirohanga and then Luna Estate. We stopped into Martinborough Vineyard before going back to Tirohana and then finally back to the square. This year fewer wineries were involved, which actually made it better on several levels. First, the bus route around the vineyards was much more compact, meaning you could almost walk much of it. Second, we still didn't get everywhere but there was plenty for us to enjoy without feeling overwhelmed by choice. Making the route smaller meant Toast felt more intimate in 2016.
5. The beautiful surroundings
I'm just gonna be honest. I never get over how beautiful New Zealand is. We are SO lucky. I loved staring at the hills and the crisp blue sky on Sunday, and just getting a little bit misty eyed. It truly is a magic part of the world. The wine certainly helped!
6. That Party vibe!
There was an awesome party vibe that was in no way disrupted by the rigourous security and addition of hosts. People were genuinely having a great time, and nowhere more so than at Luna Estate. The Noodles brought the crowd, followed by True Bliss singing at Tirohanga in late afternoon (be still my 90's beating heart). What was awesome to see was people having a great time and not making dicks of themselves and generally being disruptive. There was fresh Almighty Juice being driven around (they were also giving impromptu rides!) and we happily got down with hydration.
While I can't speak for after 4:30 (we headed home), it was so fabulous that the extra measures didn't kill that famous party spirit of Toast Martinborough. Matt and I really did have the most incredible day, as did everyone who I compared notes with on Monday.
Hurrah to Toast Martinborough's 25th birthday and it's highly successful return to its civilised roots. We truly had the best day! I LOVED this event so much I just want to go all over again. Cheers, Toast! I'll drink to that!
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