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Nga Waka pops up on election day

October 15, 2020 October 2020 No Comments

Nga Waka has always been a winery of firsts. It is one of the first two wineries on the drive into Martinborough village and was one of the first six wineries in the region in 1988, but this year it clocks up a slightly unusual first by opening a pop up cellar door on Election Day, Saturday 17 October. 

“We can’t let politics get in the way of wine tasting,” says general manager Mick Hodson, who is looking forward to talking with customers directly about wine. 

“It is 20 years since Nga Waka was last open for cellar door tastings and sales. It will be a great opportunity for people to hear our story directly as well as taste and buy the wines. I am looking forward to getting back in front of customers, doing what I love, talking about wine,” says Hodson, who moved to the Wairarapa this year to take up the role of general manager after working for both the distributor, Hancocks, and also Glengarry’s in Auckland for many years.
The pop up cellar door is the winery’s first step towards a permanent cellar door. The plans are nearly ready to go to council for consent and include landscaping. The planned open date for the permanent cellar door is October 2021. 

Nga Waka vineyard was founded by Roger Parkinson in 1988. His first vintage was 1993. He remains at the winemaking helm but has sold the business to North Americans Jay Short and Peggy Dupey, who plan to double their vineyard holdings to produce more wine for export to the United States. 

Short and Dupey have also purchased the Croft Vineyard at Pirinoa, south of Martinborough. They currently grow grapes in California and grow coffee in Hawaii but the harvests of both businesses clash. They wanted to find a vineyard with a harvest that did not coincide with their Hawaiian coffee. Nga Waka ticked that box. 

One of the current challenges at Nga Waka is replanting vines which were originally planted on their own roots, ungrafted. Grafting prevents disease, most importantly, the root eating aphid phylloxera, which is present in the Wairarapa. Some Pinot Noir was replanted in 2015 and Mendoza Chardonnay was replanted with clone 548 from the country’s largest vine nursery, Riversun Nursery in Gisborne. Riesling is next, but that’s another story. 

Wine of the month

2018 Nga Waka Lease Block Pinot Noir 

Roger Parkinson’s quest for excellence shows in Lease Block Pinot Noir. The Lease Block was planted in 1999 and is a miniscule 0.8 hectare site, 100% devoted to Pinot with three different clones (5, 115, 10/5, all grafted to rootstock 101-14). The wines from Lease Block are consistent show stoppers. Dry, earthy and deeply flavoursome with great structure.  

Joelle Thomson


Joelle Thomson is a wine writer and published author of 15 books, who writes for Good magazine, Drinksbiz and NZ Winegrower. She lives in Martinborough with her partner and puppy, Patsy. 

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