Martinborough, New Zealand: Best places to eat - general manager Richard Rooney's picks

THE EXPERT

Growing up on a farm and being involved with luxury lodges from a young age gave Richard Rooney the perfect background to manage one of the world's most well-known luxury hideaways – Wharekauhau Country Estate. See relaischateaux.com

BREAKFAST

You cannot go passed the central Square in Martinborough without stopping at Neighbourhood for the best coffee this side of the Remutaka Ranges. Try the fresh house-roasted coffee beans, coupled with home-made cheese scones and traditional creamy butter. To really push the boat out try their pinot noir barrel-aged coffee – now that's wine region coffee.  See intheneighbourhood.co.nz

LUNCH

Winemaking is never easy but being an owner-operator of a vineyard and cellar-door restaurant adds a whole other level of creativity and complexity, a challenge greatly accepted by owner and winemaker Phill McArthur. Enjoy sharing plates of relaxed country fare harvested locally. Partner that with the Moy Hall Pinot Noir or the Syrah that is to be "officially" released in December and it's an unequivocal example of the perfect wine/food/location love triangle. See moyhall.co.nz

TREAT

My get out-of-jail card if I am in trouble is Schoc Chocolate. Schoc combines the joy and health benefits of consuming quality chocolate with a deeper understanding of one's inner self. They sell a book written by owner, chef and qualified counsellor, Murray Langham, which tells you how to discover your "chocolate personality".With the 60 different (and unique) flavours on offer, my personal recommendations include the Carrot & Coriander, Sea Salt & Dark and Chardonnay & White. See schoc.co.nz

TASTING

Living in a wine region, it is often a hard choice of where to find that perfect vineyard moment. I am in love with Te Kairanga Vineyard. This boutique vineyard is producing some of the words best pinot noirs, and chardonnays. Their John Martin Pinot Noir 2017 was the Best in Show at London's Decanter Wine Awards 2019. As an added bonus it is also home to the locally famous Lighthouse Gin. I have watched as traditional gin lovers converge on Martinborough and leave converted to this unique version. 

See tekairanga.co.nz and lighthousegin.co.nz

DINNER

Wharekauhau Country Estate is the perfect place to go if you want to engage in the best seasonal  destination dining experience in the region. Wharekauhau translates to "Place of Knowledge" and the chef really does embrace that with his knowledge of foraging and seasonal harvest. The property is a Relai  & Chateaux hotel situated on a 1214 hectare coastal working sheep station. Menu highlights include free-range chicken and estate-farmed, Manuka honey-roasted soup, served with stinging nettle and whipped goats curd. See wharekauhau.co.nz

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