Iconic Wine Festival Cancelled For the First Time in 36 Years

Organisers of New Zealand’s ‘original wine festival’ have decided that thousands of people in one place, including half the wine industry, is too risky weeks out from harvest and so they have cancelled next year’s Marlborough Wine and Food Festival.

Marlborough Winegrowers board chairman Tom Trolove said the decision was made to protect the health of our people and the economic lifeblood of this region. It will be the first time in the festival’s 36-year history that it has not gone ahead.

A New Zealand Institute of Economic Research report found the wine industry made up 19 percent of Marlborough’s gross domestic product (GDP) and supplied one in five jobs in the region. Marlborough harvested 77.7 per cent of New Zealand’s grapes in 2020, which accounted for 80 per cent of wine exports, valued at $1.9 billion.

“No matter how much we love our iconic wine festival, with all its camaraderie and celebration, we cannot let it jeopardise our industry or indeed our community,” expressed Trolove, who encouraged people to visit the region regardless of the cancellation.

“It may not be a good time for 8000 people to gather on a vineyard site, but it is a fantastic time to visit Marlborough’s cellar doors and get an extraordinary insight into what makes this region’s wines amazing.”

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett said the cancellation would be a blow to Marlborough’s events calendar. “But there is no doubt that the wine industry’s main objective is to harvest its grapes in optimal condition and make the wine that helps put Marlborough on the global stage.”