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Justine Tyerman is a New Zealand journalist, travel writer and sub-editor. Married for 36 years, she lives in rural surroundings near Gisborne on the East Coast of New Zealand with her husband Chris. 

Gisborne Wine and Food Weekend is about to come of age. It began last century, in fact last millennium, and celebrates its 20th anniversary at Labour Weekend.

The festival has seen many incarnations in the past two decades from an entirely vineyard-based event to single venues and a mixture of both. This year it’s a hybrid, offering the best of both worlds. Festival-goers have the opportunity to visit the Tairawhiti region’s vineyards and recline in the vines while sampling the product thereof.

They can also taste a variety of wines from a number of other vineyards at the ‘Wine Central’ hub.

12-10-16, Matawhero Wines . 2015 Wine And Food Weekend . Picture By Stephen Jones

Matawhero Wines, 2015 Wine and Food Weekend. Picture by Stephen Jones.

On Saturday October 22, the region’s many celebrated vineyards and wineries will open their cellar doors for visitors to savour stunning wines and cuisine.

In addition, on Saturday afternoon, TW Wines is hosting Beats, Bites and Brews at the TW Barn from 12 to 6pm.

Also on Saturday, Matawhero Wines is conducting wine workshops led by ‘The Wine Guy’ Gavin Hubble.

Sunday is the official festival day so join the throngs of wine lovers from 11am to 6pm at Matawhero Wines, The Millton Vineyard and the hub at ‘Wine Central’.

Matawhero Wines available for tasting are Pinot Rosé, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Merlot, Chenin Blanc, Malbec, non-alcoholic grape juice and boutique beer from Galbraith.

Gourmet food, hosted wine-tasting sessions in Matawhero’s underground cellar, live music and pétanque and croquet are also on the agenda.

James and Annie Millton established Millton Vineyards and Winery in 1984 and they were the first producer in New Zealand to gain Bio-Gro certification for organic wine production in 1989.

Millton’s will be serving Crazy by Nature, Muskats @ Dawn, Amrita Certified Organic Grape Juice, and Sunshine Brewery Craft Beers. There will be food and live music too.

‘Wine Central’ at Showgrounds Park Pavilion, open from 11am to 6pm, is the venue for four wineries and a brewery.

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James Millton of Millton Vineyards and Winery and Kristen Searle of Matawhero Wines. 

The Gisborne Garagiste Wine Company was formed in 2012 by three friends and winemakers with the intention of making small quantities of high-quality wines. Their list includes Viognier, Cabernet /Merlot/Malbec, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Syrah and Sauvignon Gris.

The Cognoscenti label is reserved for the finest releases produced by Waimata Wines. On their wine list are Chardonnay, Viognier, Chardonnay/Viognier, Gewürztraminer and Syrah.

Villa Maria is well-known in the New Zealand wine industry. For more than 50 years, Villa Maria has been creating approachable and food-friendly wines from New Zealand’s best winegrowing regions. A variety of Viognier, Albarino and Chardonnay will be available for tasting.

Stone Bridge Wines are produced from grapes selected by viticulturist and owner David Hart from some of Gisborne finest vineyards. Wines available are Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Merlot and ‘40fied’ Port.

Gisborne’s Sunshine Brewery has been turning out delicious batch-brewed beer using all natural ingredients since 1989. Beers for tasting include their Sunshine Project and classic Heritage range.

An array of fine food will complement the fruit of the vine at Wine Central.

Wine Central is also the ticket transfer hub for the festival, the place to exchange your ticket for your wristband and glass.

The hub will be serviced by buses running on a continuous loop from Wainui Beach through the city from 10.30 to 1pm and then back from the venue to the city and Wainui from 4.30 to 6.30pm. Tickets are $40 including unlimited bus transport.

And in case you still have energy to burn, the Funky and Familiar Tour after-party gets under way on Sunday at 7pm at The Dome Cinema.

The three-day weekend will also allow you to glimpse the cultural, historical and scenic treasures of Tairawhiti which means: "The coast upon which the sun shines across the water."

161010 Gh Millton Vineyards And Winery.

Millton Vineyards and Winery.

Gisborne is a place of firsts. The most easterly city in the world, it’s the first city on the planet to see the light of each new day. It’s where Maori landed their voyaging waka in the 14th century after navigating the Pacific Ocean; where Captain James Cook anchored the Endeavour and came ashore in 1769 for the first meeting on land between Maori and Pakeha; and not far from where Rocket Lab will launch the first test rocket into space from its base on Mahia Peninsula later this month.

Event organiser Prue Younger is excited about the festival coming of age.

"Twenty years is a great innings for the event. This year tickets are limited to 2000 so be in fast and make October 22-24 your first but not your last visit to Tairawhiti."

*Tickets available online at Ticketek.co.nz

Related links: 

The best place to fly-fish in New Zealand

Cycling Queenstown's stunning Paradise Trail

Travel guide: Queenstown

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