Charley Noble, Apache, and Hillside Kitchen are some of the Wellington eateries that are joining in on Wellington’s largest celebration of New Zealand wine when it hits the Capital this Friday and Saturday at TSB Arena. Chefs and Restaurateurs from these restaurants are running food and wine matching masterclasses. They will be joined by 61 wineries from all over the country and thousands of keen wine lovers.
The annual Winetopia celebration which offers visitors a chance to try all styles of wine from New Zealand’s coveted wine regions has this year grown to three cities. First up is Wellington this weekend, followed by Auckland from 18 & 19 June then the inaugural Christchurch event on 9 & 10 July.
Organisers who had to postpone last year’s event to October are thrilled to be running the event so soon after this year’s grape harvest. Event Director Rob Eliott comments,
“Winemakers are fresh back from picking and they always have great stories to share at this time of year. Learning about the differences between making wine in the Central Otago high country to the plains of Marlborough is part of the fun of the event. Most wineries will have some of their stunning 2020 vintage on offer this year which will be a real stand out as it was such a good crop.”
Support for the event has been strong with traditional partner Singapore Airlines re-joining the event on their 45th year of service to New Zealand. In anticipation of global travel resuming one lucky customer will win a pair of return economy class flights to Singapore (valid for one year from the first day the New Zealand border opens to Singapore). New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty Wellington are also supporting the event alongside premium glass partner Spiegelau whose stemware will be used by every guest.
Ex Hillside chef Max Gordy will also be running his new pop-up concept GRAZE over the two days serving a vegetable-led menu complemented by sustainably sourced seafood. Guests can expect dishes such as “Cinnamon buns with melted Mount Eliza blue cheese” and “Buttermilk biscuits with paua and fennel gravy.”
Comedian Ben Hurly will be “sharing a glass” of Craggy Range Hawkes Bay Syrah with visitors on the Saturday afternoon. Other guests from our TV screens who will grace the main stage include Cohen Holloway (“Hunt for the Wilder People”, “Eagle vs Shark”) and Karen O’Leary (“Wellington Paronormal”).
A diverse toupe of “Wine Gurus” will present their picks of the best wines from the more than 300 wines available for tasting. These interactive talks range from “Orange Wine… Um, What is it?” with Master of Wine Stephen Wong, to “Old is Gold” with Joelle Thompson and Sarah Limacher’s “What the !?” where she explores “wines that you might not know about but need in your life.”
Winetopia takes place over three sessions starting Friday at 5pm, Saturday at 12pm and again on Saturday at 4.30pm. The event aims to share the breadth, diversity and outstanding quality of New Zealand wine and is now the largest congregation of its type in the country that the public can attend.
“The fun of the event is really in the journey of discovering new and exciting wines from places you may not have expected” says organiser Karl Whyman. “The Golden Coins we introduced last year were a real hit allowing customers being able to try wines that normally cost over $100 per bottle at retail and generally don’t get sold by the glass, so we’ve brought that back again this year. Our Wine Blind sessions are always a lot of fun too. There’s a bit of guess work involved in working out what is in the glass but it’s always a pleasant surprise. We provide hundreds of blindfolds...”
Participating wineries include prestigious brands like Palliser and Escarpement from Martinborough, Church Rd of Hawkes Bay and Quartz Reef of Central Otago. Most brands are not readily found in the supermarkets and meeting the people behind the boutique labels such as Deep Down Wines of Marlborough, Lone Goat of North Canterbury or KariKari Estate of Northland is all part of the experience.
This year each of these mega wine tasting sessions will be rounded off with a live set by The Panic Band. “We’re serious about good wine, but after the year we’ve all had, I think we can all look forward to letting our hair down a bit too” says Eliott.
Winetopia Wellington sessions are:
Session 1: Friday 21 May 5pm – 8.30pm
Session 2: Saturday 22 May 12pm – 3.30pm
Session 3: Saturday 22 May 4.30pm – 8pm
Tickets start from $45 and include a Spiegelau tasting glass, 5 tasting tokens and access to all the wineries and main stage talks.