After a couple of years when large tracts of New Zealand have been hit by tropical cyclones prior to harvest, 2019 provided a Panadol for grape growers and winemakers throughout the country.
Hawke’s Bay turned on sunny calm weather, drawing about 1000 people out to the winegrowing subregion west of Hastings. While the Bridge Pa Wine Association focused on marketing the day to locals, word of mouth and the eventfinder site also saw many out-of-towners – among them a good number of Aucklanders making the most of their long anniversary weekend.
Chris Wilcock of Ash Ridge said the association’s members decided to stage the festival because they had fielded so many inquiries from people disappointed that Harvest Hawke’s Bay had been discontinued.
Eight wineries took part, including Paritua which offered a pop-up cellar door.
Their close proximity made for relatively straightforward transport arrangements. Special buses transported about half the revellers from pick-up points in Hastings, Havelock North and Napier and shuttles moved regularly between the wineries.
The varied entertainment included guitar sessions, light rock, some DJ rhythms and vocals, gumboot throwing, volleyball, petanque, golf chipping competitions and a barrel roll through an olive grove. Food offerings encompassed spit-roasted pork, Mexican, paella, wood-fired pizzas and platters as well as sweet treats such as waffles and pancakes.
Wilcock said the association, whose members also include Abbey Cellars, Alpha Domus, Ngatarawa, Salvare, Sileni Estates and Triangle Cellars, is aiming to attract 50 to 100 percent more festival-goers to next year’s event. It will be held on Saturday, 23 January to tie in with the Wellington Anniversary weekend.