Martinborough

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Martinborough is a wine producing area in the southern part of New Zealand's North Island. The small town and surrounding district are home to around 1,500 residents and some of New Zealand's most highly respected boutique wineries. Martinborough's cool climate and excellent soils are perfect for the production of balanced, elegant wines made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Martinborough lies around 35 miles (55km) north-east of Wellington, New Zealand's capital city, in a wide river valley between the Rimutaka mountain range and the eastern Wairarapa hills. The Ruamahanga River meanders through the region on its way to Palliser Bay, 20 miles (32km) to the south. The small viticultural sub-region of Te Muna is just east of Martinborough township itself, and Gladstone lies to the north-east.

Martinborough was established in the 1800s as a service post for the surrounding farmland, but wasn't discovered as a prime site for viticulture until the 1970s. In 1978, a scientific report compared the climate of the region with that of Burgundy in France, and a few pioneering vignerons began to buy land around Martinborough. Nowadays, the bustling township has several dozen wineries in its vicinity, and wine and wine tourism are major contributors to the local economy. The annual Toast Martinborough wine festival attracts around 10,000 visitors to the town every November.

The viticultural areas of the region lie on the Martinborough Terrace – a raised plateau of alluvial gravel that has been forced up over time by tectonic movement. The free-draining nature of this soil is excellent for viticulture because it limits the hydration of the vines, leading to stress. These stressed vines put their energy more into producing small, concentrated berries than leafy foliage, increasing the quality of the grapes and subsequently the wines.

Martinborough enjoys a relatively dry climate due to the rain shadow of the surrounding hills. The area is climatically quite similar to Marlborough, with a coastal influence. High sunshine hours, low rainfall and cool nights assist in ripening the grapes and adding character to the wines.

Despite the fact that Martinborough has only three percent of all of New Zealand's vineyard land, it is still widely considered to be one of the country's prime wine regions. Its claim to fame is the exceptional quality of its Pinot Noir wines, produced by some of the most highly regarded wineries in New Zealand. The style of this wine is regarded to be more complex than its counterparts from Central Otago.
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