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Photo; Mike HeydonI admit to hav­ing a Toast addic­tion. The wine kind. Year after year, Toast Martinborough’s wine, food and music fest­iv­al has the for­mula that makes this event fam­ous. Like any suc­cess­ful brand or busi­ness, the tri­umph of Toast Mar­tin­bor­ough comes down to the per­son­al touch.

And the num­bers stack up nicely too: $2.5 mil­lion is gen­er­ated for the loc­al com­munity; 30,000 por­tions of res­taur­ant-qual­ity food are served; 10,000 punters enjoy a mem­or­able spring day, rain or shine; the 1,000 event work­ers are mostly volun­teers; 70 wines are laid out for you to try; 22 live enter­tain­ment acts com­pete for your best dance moves; and 11 vine­yard own­ers are eager to see you again. The odds are that you’re going to have a damn good time.

At the helm of it all is one petite, enthu­si­ast­ic and highly affable woman, con­stantly in touch with her CB radio. Toast Martinborough’s gen­er­al man­ager Rachael Fletch­er would be Don­ald Trump’s dream appren­tice-teach­er. While Toast Mar­tin­bor­ough as a board-run entity is a massive team effort, it is Fletch­er who takes care of the day-to-day organ­isa­tion and man­age­ment of an event that con­tinu­ally accom­plishes suc­cess for the brand, and for Mar­tin­bor­ough as a whole. Indeed, there are not many wine vil­lages on the inter­na­tion­al stage that have man­aged to attract such a vari­ety of people.

As fest­iv­al dir­ect­or, Fletch­er barely sleeps the day before, barely eats the day of, and is entitled to shed a tear or two of adren­al­in-fuelled exhaus­tion the day after the event. She nev­er believes the weath­er report until at least 96 hours pri­or to the fest­iv­al, and always meets the first bus­load of people to arrive in the square. As the voice of 11 indi­vidu­al vine­yard sites, she guides the look of the brand, the media, the bankers, the secur­ity, the water pro­vider and the port-a-loo people. She is fuelled by the suc­cess of the pre­vi­ous year, and by the buzz of the day ahead. Like all those tak­ing part in the day, Fletcher’s per­son­al friends volun­teer as work­ers and give her their own call-a-spade-a-spade advice on how the day went. For Fletch­er, 2013 is all about con­tinu­al improve­ment and bet­ter value for money. And the best indic­at­or of its suc­cess will be mak­ing the day a must for your 2014, 2015 and 2016 diaries.

Toast Mar­tin­bor­ough is a busi­ness run by col­our­ful people full of indi­vidu­al­ity and char­ac­ter. You can exper­i­ence this first hand by attend­ing the event. Every vine­yard has its own atmo­sphere, which for the punter helps you define your day. The com­mon­al­ity of all vine­yard sites is the will to see Wellington’s wine vil­lage on the inter­na­tion­al stage. I hope you man­aged to secure your tick­ets this year. You had approx­im­ately 20 minutes to do so. If not, you still have 300 days to plan for 2014.

Vis­it for more inform­a­tion on the 2013 programme.


Bliss'11 - detail


To get in the mood for this year’s Toast Mar­tin­bor­ough fest­iv­al, you really need a glass or three of Bliss by organ­ic pro­du­cers Vyn­fields. Rather than being made from tra­di­tion­al Cham­pagne grapes, Bliss is all effer­ves­cent Riesling. Short­bread aro­mat­ics greet the nose, fol­lowed by spring hon­ey­suckle and sweet cit­ric bursts of fla­vour. It’s soft and mousse-like in tex­ture, with just enough vari­et­al acid­ity to hark a wake-up call to the taste buds. Not too heavy or acid­ic, Bliss provides a smart match for your bacon and maple syr­up pan­cake break­fast, served at 10am pri­or to start­ing your Toast Mar­tin­bor­ough day on 17 November.



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