Saturday, December 02, 2006

A Taste of Toast

Toast Martinborough, that is. New Zealand's oldest and appropiately named wine festival is a one-day salute to the region's best Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sav Blanc and Port-a-Loos. Tickets to the festival are limited to a few thousand and sell out in a matter of minutes each year. Wine glass-toting ticket holders travel from winery to winery on shuttle buses or by foot to pay anywhere from $3 for a taste to $15 a glass to drink the local juice.

Although Craggy's winery and cellar door are located in Hawkes Bay, where we live, our largest company vineyard is in Martinborough so every year a motley crew of employees, friends of employees and significant others make the 3 hour drive down to Martinborough to work the festival. This year Paul and I were among them. Since we don't have a vistor center or winery in Martinborough, we rent out a rugby pitch (field), marquees (big tents) and hire (rent) a host of props, cooking equipment and assorted odds and ends from the locals. (ironically enough located at the corner of New York and Broadway Streets)

But it just wouldn't be the Craggy way to put up a tent and table and call it a day. No, every year the vineyard crew literally plants a minivineyard with 4 rows of sav blanc vines along the entrance pathway. Then we bring in a truckload of trees, lavender, potted flowers, and linens to bring our temporary home up to snuff. The empty truck then becomes a stage for NZ faves the Tropical Downbeat Orchestra and DJ Mikey from Wellington who had the drunken masses cavorting until the last glass was emptied.

By the end of the day, we had sold over $60,000 worth of wine, wood-fired flatbreads and house-made ice creams. But once you factor in the hireage fees, lodging for 20 employees and other costs, we barely broke even. But we didn't care because we were headed for our own notorious after party...


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