Wellington and the Wairarapa Feature

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Wairarapa's Best Wineries

Pick up a map of the area vineyards at Martinborough's visitor center, then hit the road to sample some of the country's best up-and-coming vineyards. Here are the top local picks. (Any organized wine tour cost will include tasting.)

Ata Rangi Vineyard. This family-owned and family-managed winery makes exceptional chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, and Célèbre (a cabernet-merlot-shiraz blend) in small quantities. Puruatanga Rd., Martinborough, 5741. 06/306–9570. www.atarangi.co.nz. Tastings Daily weekdays 1–3, weekends 12–4.

Coney Wines. Have lunch here for a view over the vines that produce a terrific pinot noir and pinot gris plus a rosé you can get only onsite. Dry River Rd., Martinborough, 5954. 06/306–8345. Tastings Summer Fri.–Sun. 11–4; Winter Sat-Sun. 11-4.

Martinborough Vineyard. This fine regional winery was the first to convince the world of the Wairarapa's pinot noir potential. The chardonnay is also exceptional. Princess St., Martinborough, 5741. 06/306–9955. www.martinborough-vineyard.co.nz. Tastings daily 11–4.

Murdoch James Vineyard. This boutique producer of a wide range of Martinborough wines is a 10-minute scenic drive out of town. Try their smooth Blue Rock Pinot Noir in the onsite Bloom Restaurant — it goes perfectly with the tasting platter, or if you are really peckish go for the braised pork belly, toasted walnut and blue cheese salad. Dry River Rd., Martinborough, 5781. 06/306–9165. www.murdochjames.co.nz. Tastings year-round, daily 11–5:30. Restaurant open from 11am Thurs-Mon.

Palliser Estate. Don't miss the whites here—they're some of the best locally. Of particular note is the sauvignon blanc, which is renowned for its intense ripe flavors, and the pinot noir, which is made in an elegant classic style. Kitchener St., Martinborough, 5741. 06/306–9019. www.palliser.co.nz. Tastings daily 10:30–4. 10:30–5 summer weekends.

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