Joelle Thomson

Writer, author, journalist

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New tasting room in Martinborough...

Nga Waka grows visitor numbers with new facility

Growing visitor numbers to Martinborough now have a new tasting room to visit before they even enter the village with the official opening of Nga Waka's new cellar door tasting room this week.The small winery is has more than doubled its vineyard holdings in the past seven years with the new owners of Jay Short and Peggy Dupey, who purchased the winery in 2015 from its founder, Roger Parkinson, who remains on as winemaker.
The new cellar door is the first for Nga Waka and is sited prominently on the drive into the village. Its modern architectural design is surrounded by native plantings and it signals a step change in both production volumes and growth of the brand.

The American couple Jay Short and Peggy Dupey have also retained Martinborough local Mike Kershaw as the company viticulturist while purchasing small plots of land around the village, which have been prime vineyard sites but had fallen into disrepair. These are now being built up to grow production of Nga Waka wines. The couple are based out of New Zealand but now own a home in Martinborough and plan to continue growing the brand.  It was Sauvignon Blanc rather than Pinot Noir that made the biggest splash for Nga Waka winery in the early days of Martinborough but today it is the Pinot that most visitors to the new cellar door want to taste first.

The Nga Waka in its early days. But it was a love affair with complex Pinot Noirs that brought the winery's current owners, Jay Short and Peggy Dupey, to the town in .... 

1999 Riesling

2003 Late Harvest Riesling

2004 Home Block Chardonnay

2008 Pinot Noir

2011 Riesling

2013 Chardonnay

2016 Lease Block Pinot Noir

2017 Sauvignon Blanc

They have since purchased a house in Martinborough where they live when here. The couple also own a house in Piemonte and live in Hawaii where they own a coffee plantation. Fortunately, the coffee and wine harvests differ so that there is no clash and they can be present for both. 

The last time Parkinson used cork was in 2003 on Nga Waka Home Block Chardonnay - 
"It was the worst batch of corks I've ever used," he laughs, having since made the move to  screw caps for 100% of his wines. 

GM Mick Hodson was the first brand manager for Nga Waka, working for the distribution company, Hancocks, prior to moving to nearby Greytown with his family nearly three years ago, in order to take on the role of general manager at the winery. 

* Ata Rangi is also soon to open its new tasting room, another modern facility and at one of the first four vineyard sites in Martinborough.