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Marlborough Wine & Food Festival Video Released

February 4, 2014

Marlborough Wine & Food Festival Video Released

• 30th Anniversary this weekend
• Pioneers remember how it all began

Thirty years ago, there were just four wineries in Marlborough. Now in 2014, there are dozens, with even more labels originating from the region.

As Marlborough’s Wine and Food Festival prepares to celebrate the 30th anniversary of New Zealand’s largest wine event, some of the pioneers of those early festivals remember back in a video clip.

Members of the early committees that helped form the now iconic festival include, Brancott Estate’s Gerry Gregg, Marlborough Express’s Bill Floyd, Air New Zealand’s Mike Blair, original chairman Malcolm Aitken, winegrower Allan Scott, winery owner Jane Hunter and committee secretary Karen Ryan.

In a four and a half minute clip, the pioneers remember back to 1985, when Blenheim was known more for sunshine than wine.

While Ernie Hunter, the founder of Hunter’s Wines had often mooted a wine festival, it took another major event in the township of Blenheim, to initiate the inaugural day. It was the opening of the Marlborough Centre, a community funded theatre, in 1985 that provided the impetus for the grape growers of the region.

With so many people in the township for the opening, the growers were determined to show just what was happening out in the country, in terms of wine growing.

Montana, Te Whare Ra, Daniel Le Brun and Hunter’s all had wineries, while Corbans had contract growers and were preparing to establish a winery within the province. With the help of buses, hundreds of people were delivered to each of the wineries, to partake in festivities and of course the wine. The day was deemed a massive success.

Twelve months later, the second festival followed much the same format, with hundreds more turning up.

By 1987, the original committee members realised there was a need for a one-site event, to handle the growing popularity of the festival. Historic Brancott Vineyard, the first to be planted in 1973, has been the home of the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival ever since.

While the day’s format has changed over the years, the motivation for the festival hasn’t. It was established to promote the wine and food that emanates from Marlborough and to cement the region’s name as a world-class producer.

The vision created by the festival pioneers back in 1985 has been well and truly achieved. Marlborough is now rated as one of the world’s great wine regions, producing renowned Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling and sparkling wines.

Wine Marlborough General Manager, Marcus Pickens comments;
“With this important milestone looming, everyone involved in planning this year’s festival believed that it was the right time to capture some of these Festival Pioneers thoughts and motivations for staging something that became a permanent feature. We are all so grateful to what they have achieved with it”.

The festival itself has been rated by the Automobile Association as one of the “100 Must Do Things in New Zealand”. It has also become an international success with visitors from throughout the world including it in a visit to New Zealand.

The 30th Anniversary Marlborough Wine and Food Festival is this weekend, at Brancott Vineyard. Tickets are available at Download the video on either Youtube ( or Vimeo ( or for public viewing visit the Millennium Art Gallery.


© Scoop Media

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