Friday wine with Roger Parkinson and three new Pinot Noirs

Weekly wine talk is published every Friday

Climate change keeps Roger Parkinson permanently on edge these days. The Martinborough local marks 30 years of continuous winemaking at Nga Waka next year, a milestone by any stretch but particularly in a country as new to wine as New Zealand.

Here, he shares his thoughts about wine, life and three new Pinot Noirs.

This is the 13th interview on this website based on the famous Proust questionnaire, which originated in 1886 – find out more here.

Wine of the week


2020 Nga Waka Martinborough Lease Block Pinot Noir RRP $45

Hot days, strong winds, cool nights and low yields of grapes make Martinborough potentially magnificent for ripening small volumes of high quality Pinot Noirs. This is an exceptional example from a great year.

This wine’s depth of flavour sits in an impressive framework of smoothness in a wine with a full body, super savoury taste and balanced by a refreshing, long finish thanks to acidity, which provides freshness and vibrancy to every sip of this wine, which is made from 0.8 hectare vineyard known as Lease Block, situated on Huangarua Road. This site was planted in 1999 in 100% Pinot Noir clone 5, 115, and 10/5. It was bottled unfined and unfiltered, this wine is vegan friendly.

Find out more about the other two new Nga Waka Pinot Noirs here

Meet Roger Parkinson of Nga Waka

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

On the wine side it’s playing a part in the development of Martinborough as a quality producer and approaching 30 vintages of winemaking. How did that happen so fast? Personally, the satisfaction of having grown two awesome children and watching them flourish as adults. Probably more their’sand my wife Carol’s achievement than mine but very rewarding.

What is your current state of mind?

Covid has been tough on everyone and has definitely produced some mental fatigue but I think we’re close to seeing light at the end of the tunnel. I’m pretty optimistic about daily life and have much to be grateful for but I’m very anxious for the future.

We have yet to respond urgently enough to the climate catastrophe that is charging at us so I’m very pessimistic about that.

What is your favourite part of being involved in winemaking?

The people and idea of creating the liquid history of the region in wines made in it. There is a strange dichotomy with winemaking that provides some nice creative tension. On one hand, we expect the region and terroir to deliver consistent flavours and style from one year to the next. On the other hand we look for each vintage to tell its own story. The art of winemaking lies in working within that tension.

Do you have a most treasured wine?

In 1985 when my parents lived in Rome we had the whole family together and Dad produced a magnum of 1970 Prunotto Barolo for Xmas lunch. Both the occasion and the wine, which was incredible, remain treasured memories.

Where is your favourite wine region?

Other than Martinborough, it has to be Alsace.

When and where are you at your happiest?

These days it’s all about horses. I still ride which gives me great pleasure but we also breed and race thoroughbreds so anything to do with that is my happy place.

What do you most dislike in wine?


What is your greatest fear?

Climate change.

What is your greatest extravagance?


What is your greatest regret?

Not buying much more land in Martinborough when it really was a steal.

What talent would you most like to have?

Guitar mastery rather than three-chord basher status.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

A world without wine, horses and music.

What is the trait that you most deplore in yourself?


What do you most value in your friends?

Sense of humour and empathy.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

You’d have to ask my wife Carol.

What is your favourite meal?

Slow cooked lamb shanks with Pinot of course, with tiramisu for dessert.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing what do you think it would be?

Not an easy question for an atheist to answer as it’s not going to happen.

The kitchenmaid and the wine writer at Booktown

The Kitchenmaid and the Wine Writer talk Homecooked

Join Wellington food author Lucy Corry and I for a live book launch and mini food festival in Featherston on Saturday 20 November from 3pm to 4pm at Anzac Hall, 62 Bell St, Featherston

I hope you can join Lucy Corry and I for a great afternoon of fun, food and chat about her inspiration for home cooking. Details follow, along with brief bios of both Lucy and I (written in third person).

There will also be a mini food festival held in the Anzac Hall with an espresso cart outside the hall. Social distancing applies all round.

  • This event is the official launch of food writer Lucy Corry’s new book Homecooked, available for purchase and signing by the author on the day.
  • It will be held on Saturday 20 November in New Zealand’s only official booktown, Featherston, at the foot of the Remutaka Ranges.
  • Social distancing applies, details below.

“Start with toast – make sure you can see teeth marks in the butter – and see where it takes you,” says Lucy, of her new book and her philosophy when it comes to enjoying food that’s been prepared with love and fresh ingredients.

About Lucy Corry

Lucy has written for NZ Life & Leisure, Canvas, Sunday, Your Weekend, Frankie, Cuisine, Nadia Journal, Gourmet Traveller,, and rnz. She coauthored the Ockham award winning Hiakai: Modern Māori Cuisine and wrote the Burger Wellington cookbook.

About Joelle Thomson

Joelle writes for The Drop (USA), Good magazine, NZ Winegrower and Drinksbiz as well as She has written for The NZ Herald, Dominion Post, MiNDFOOD, Vogue Living, NZ Home & Entertaining, Urbis, Urbis Landscapes and many other lifestyle magazines. She is the author of 15 books about wine and has a new book in the pipeline for launch pre Christmas this year, which is a guide to New Zealand’s most beautiful wine regions, most visitable wineries, nearby cycleways, walks and things to do.

Book sales and food fair

The new book will be for sale, thanks to Featherston’s bookshop, Chicken and Frog Bookstore, and she will be available to sign it during an artisanal food fair that begins at 1 pm in the Anzac Hall complex before the talk.

  • The food fair will feature food producers from the South Wairarapa and cookbook stalls. There will be stalls outside the hall including a coffee cart.

The event will be held in association with Benn and Erin of Property Brokers Featherston.

Social distancing

The event will be held in accordance with Level 2 restrictions. All attendees must wear a mask and scan their COVID app or sign in for contact tracing.

If there is a change of COVID level back to level 3 or 4, this event will be postponed

Buy tickets here

Tickets are $25 plus booking fees and are available here on Eventfinda.

Digging the dirt on a new cellar door

Construction has begun on the new cellar door at Nga Waka winery in Martinborough after delays due to Covid-19, which resulted in the restricted supply of building materials and available engineers.

Architectural drawing of the new Nga Waka cellar door from Vicky Read at Aspect Architecture

Alternative supplies needed to be found before construction could begin and the project completion date is now set down for mid May 2022. This is less than half a year later than the original scheduled end date for the cellar door.

Winery general manager Mick Hodson says the Nga Waka team is comfortable with the new date, given that conceptualising for the new cellar door only began at the start of 2019, just prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“When we first started planning this in 2020, we were looking at November 2021 for opening and now we’re looking at May 2022, so it’s only six or seven months later and it’s been 30 years in the waiting.”

This will be the first purpose built cellar door when it opens and will incorporate a sheltered indoor-outdoor day time restaurant with a strong focus on tutored tastings.

The plan is to run sit-down tutored tastings rather than standing at the bar, says Hodson, who adds that casual walk-ins for a glass of wine will also be welcome but not the main focus.

“Research shows there’s more engagement around a seated tasting because people can relax and focus more on the wines, without rushing or being crowded out while standing at a bar type of situation.”

The winery was founded in 1988, which is the year that winemaker and founder planted vines in the region. This makes Nga Waka one of the first wineries in Martinborough and the only one with the original winemaker still at the helm in the winery. Jay Short and Peggy Dupey purchased Nga Waka five years ago from Parkinson, who remains winemaker and will mark his 30th vintage next year.

There are architectural similarities between the new building and the existing winery with similar use of timber, concrete floors and roof design, albeit a lower one in the new cellar door.

Resource consent went through relatively smoothly but there were some issues to contend with in relation to the New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA). This was because the winery is technically situated on State Highway 1 and plans for the new building include a pedestrian and cyclists’ entrance.

“The person we were talking with at NZTA had never been to Martinborough and did not initially realise that we already typically have up to 400 cyclists here in the weekend. Once the layout of the village and our proximity to it was realised, things went through smoothly.”

Landscaping around the new building is by Hamish Moorhead, a Wairarapa based landscaper, who is basing plantings on natives.

Food will be available at the new cellar door and Hodson is working with local restaurateurs and a chef on the menu.

“It’s going to be food that the front of house staff can put together. It’s going to be a cool little menu, very much based on local produce and designed to complement the wines, without competing with other wineries that have full restaurant menus.”

The winery has also purchased the entire vineyard land around Vynfields Winery in Martinborough, which it has replanted with Riesling, Chardonnay and Gamay. This is thought to be the first Gamay in the region. Next year the owners plan to plant Chenin Blanc on this site.

The skinny on Nga Waka’s new cellar door

Opening is scheduled for June 2022.

Hours will be day time for seven days in summer and reduced winter hours.

Food will be served as it is a licensing requirement.

Special dinner events and tastings will be held through the year.