A steady stream of winemakers and vineyard representatives has been pouring into Whanganui during the past five years for a popular monthly event.

The Whanganui Wine & Food club, run by Gioia Damosso, this month celebrates its fifth anniversary of hosting wine tastings in the city.

Damosso's family opened La Strada restaurant in lower Victoria Ave in August 2014 and she began hosting wine tastings once a month, with different winemakers and vineyards presenting at each wine club evening.

"Some people have been coming since month one and are still coming today which is really nice," Damosso said.


"It's nice when we get new people too. It's very relaxed. Some people who come along know nothing about wine but want to learn. People have a good time and enjoy spending time with their friends."

After La Strada closed, the wine club evenings moved to Mint Cafe and are now held at Frank. Bar + Eatery.

"Mint is more a family dinner venue on a Wednesday night so we've moved next door to Frank which is a better venue for a wine tasting night," Damosso said.

As well as wine, Damosso has organised several craft beer tastings and a gin tasting event.

"It's not hard to get winemakers and vineyard reps to come here," she said.

"People are always messaging the Whanganui Wine & Food Facebook page asking if they can present to the club. It's not much of a stretch for them to come from Hawke's Bay or Martinborough - it's only a few hours' drive."

Winemakers or marketing representatives for the vineyards talk about the wines and vineyards (and sometimes themselves) during the tasting event.

"These people really know their stuff and the way they talk about wine is always different," Damosso said.


"A lot of the wines you can't find in a liquor shop or the supermarket. Especially if they're a small producer, they might just have a cellar door or sell online. There's often a discount available at the tastings and a lot of our members order wine [for future delivery] on the night."

Numbers at the tastings tend to drop off in winter and pick up again towards summer. The biggest crowd Damosso has hosted at a wine tasting is 90 people.

Damosso will mark the fifth anniversary of Whanganui Wine & Food with a tasting of Maison Noire wines on Wednesday, August 21.

Maison Noire, near Havelock North is owned by French winemaker Guillaume Thomas and his New Zealand-born wife Esther and markets its wines as "a French taste of New Zealand".

There will be no charge for the August event. Bookings can be made on the Whanganui Wine & Food Facebook page.