I 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 toastmartinborough.co.nz for more information on the 2013 programme.[info]
VYNFIELDS BLISS 2012
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.