"Red, red wine!" sang the crowds last weekend at Toast Martinborough.
After a three-year hiatus, Toast Martinborough was back with thousands of people from all over New Zealand enjoying the Best Sunday Ever. And just like the old days, it was a great day out.
"Toast Martinborough is unique. People can try wine, food, and music at each vineyard. About 8000 people attend this event," said Anna Nielson, general manager of Destination Wairarapa.
On top of that, another 1500 service staff were on site to ensure the event is a safe and happy day.
For many visitors, it was their first time at Toast Martinborough, like Jack Futter and Olivia Cottle from Wellington.
"We're enjoying our first time to Toast," Olivia said. "We tried some amazing wine and met some awesome couples who are quite interested in wine as well. We'll catch up with them in Wellington, which is awesome."
Fredericka Walker-Murray lives in Martinborough. For her, Toast Martinborough is not only one of the best events in New Zealand but also brings all her family members together.
"My family are here from Christchurch and Wellington and North Canterbury. Our whole family sits at the table, listens to music, and enjoys the food. Everybody is happy. Everybody smiles at each other," she said.
Combining seven festival locations and eight wineries, Toast Martinborough is a key stop on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail.
Nielson said, "This iconic event highlights something that we're really good at in the region in terms of production."
As a wine and food festival, Toast Martinborough started in 1992, aiming to promote Wairarapa's premium produce and celebrate the season's new release.
Ata Rangi Vineyard winemaker Helen Masters still remembers the first Toast Martinborough 30 years ago.
"I worked in the first event when I was a university student. It was just really an amazing success and brought people to the region," she said.
"The event continued every year except the last three years. It changes slightly every year. Some wineries here one year may decide to have a break for two years, and another winery will show their wines."
Masters said it's about community collaboration and seeing how close everything is to each other: "You can actually walk from one winery to the next as a unique experience."
Masters won Gourmet Traveller Winemaker of the Year 2019. This year, she offered something different in the new tasting room.
"Normally the wines that are shown at Toast Martinborough are new-release wines, but we've got six wines from our cellar, so you're able to try wines that have reached some age."
Among the crowds were winemakers from other regions keen to explore more about wine.
"It's always nice to see a different region," said Daniel Schwarzenbach, a winemaker from Nelson.
"I have heard that Toast Martinborough was one of the places to go. It's just nice to be here, away from home, from work and enjoying some nice wine."
Apart from wine tasting, Toast Martinborough offered outstanding food and live music to create a fun, relaxed vibe. It also made a significant contribution to Wairarapa's hospitality sector and the local economy.
Nielson said, "From a tourism perspective, thousands of people come to the region to enjoy this event.
"Generally, they come on a Friday and probably leave on a Monday morning, which has a huge economic impact on our region.
"Not only the vineyards but also the other support services around it, the food, accommodation and transport providers are all having a good effect."
After the success of Toast Martinborough, everyone is hoping the next one is not in four years' time.