Back in January my husband and I were lucky enough to attend the 10th Annual Martinborough Meandering Vineyard Lunch. This is a coup because tickets tend to disappear with alarming speed as soon as the date is announced. Why? Because it's one of the best darn wine events this side of the Ruamahanga River, that's why.

Here's the deal. Four tiny wineries, Croft, Te Hera, Julicher and Coney, band together to put on a day filled with tasty wine, terrific food, rump-shaking music and all sorts of jolly japery for a small bunch of wine lovers.

If you think that sounds like fun - then wait till you get on the buses. Travelling round-robin style between each winery, the atmosphere in the buses is a bit like heading off to school camp, with dodgy singing, bags of lollies being passed around and the naughty kids guarding their seats at the back.

It starts at 10.30am with ticketholders gathering in Martinborough Square for a couple of glasses of bubbly before boarding their allocated bus. It's a sea of sunglasses, straw hats, sleeveless frocks and sunblock.


Our tour guide is May Croft, who in addition to being the local Anglican vicar is also proprietor of our first winery. "Our wines are made by Paul Mason at Martinborough Vineyard, but everything else is done by me and my husband Peter."

We disembark to the beat of a groovy two-piece bossa nova band playing next to the tiny octagonal tasting room. May and Peter then talk us through five wines (the 2014 sauvignon blanc is superb) paired with an amazing selection of salmon dishes prepared by Cafe Medici chef Nick Arnold under a prettily decorated marquee.

Bottles are purchased then we're off to multi-award winning Julicher Estate on the Te Muna terraces, where we're greeted by the dulcet harmonies of The Cuzzie Bros band.

Sue Darling and Wim Julicher, together with Finnish winemaker Outi Jakovirta, had set up a beautiful bar inside the winery. While their 2012 99 Rows Pinot Noir had us queuing, their rose and chardonnay were also crowd favourites. Ryan and Hannah Tattersall from Cobar restaurant in Wellington's Days Bay crafted the food and thankfully the band busted out rousing renditions of She's A Mod and Johnny B Goode so we could work it all off.

Dry River Road beckoned and we wobbled off the bus into the gates of Coney Wines where the effusively eloquent, wickedly wiry and masterfully melodic Tim Coney talks us through his 2006 Rollantando Riesling, "which ages better than most humans". His winemaker daughter, Lisa, shows us their honeyed, succulent Ragtime Riesling and ripe, pepper-laden Que Sera Syrah, before Tim stands on a trestle table to rattle off a poem.

We're then led into the serene confines of the dining room to indulge in a triumph of pork and pinot gris.

Our last stop is tiny Te Hera Estate, where Te Muna terraces pioneer John Douglas began planting pinot noir back in 1996. We knock back tastings of two delicious examples before taking our seats to plough through possibly the best quail dish I've ever tasted. No sooner had I gnawed through the last little leg than John announced it was time for the quiz - hooray.

Quizzes are my drug of choice. I love them, but I always answer too quickly. Which is why I bombed out. I forgot a Burgundy barrel is two litres bigger than a Bordeaux barrel. Matthew Finn from Wellington is a 10-year veteran "because it's like Toast Martinborough for old people. You just arrive, the wines are served alongside delicious meals, you have a dance then move on.


"And it gets better every year."