Sailing Through Storms: Nga Waka’s Vintage Resilience


Nga Waka, a distinguished presence in Martinborough's wine industry, graces State Highway 53 on the way to Martinborough Square. Established in 1988, it found new custodians in Jay Short and Peggy Dupeg in 2015, who expanded its vineyard from 10 to an expansive 20 hectares, including seven petite vineyards encircling the charming village of Martinborough. Over the years, their distinct and unwavering winemaking philosophy has cultivated a dedicated following.

Legend suggests that the hills took shape from three canoes owned by the legendary Polynesian explorer Kupe, swept inland by a colossal earthquake, eventually finding a resting place behind Martinborough. This tale inspired the winery's name, 'Nga Waka A Kupe' (The Canoes of Kupe).

The ensemble is led by Winemaker Roger Parkinson, crafting vintages since 1993, and Vineyard Manager Mike Kershaw, who joined in 1996. Their profound understanding of the sites and vines consistently yields wines of timeless elegance.

Roger Parkinson pens the most engaging vintage reports, showcased on Nga Waka's website. The 2023 report, titled "I Can't Stand the Rain," details the highest rainfall in a decade. Despite being one of the most challenging vintages, the adept vineyard team skillfully managed excess canopy growth and disease pressure, resulting in quality fruit, particularly in white varieties and Rosé. My review of the Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé 2023 reveals elegance and delightful drinkability.

The "Fast and Furious" vintage of 2022, as described by Roger, was a roller coaster with a dry spring, followed by a wet December, a dry January, and a record-breaking wet February. Harvest faced challenges with staff shortages and COVID complications. The nearly ripe grapes, susceptible to botrytis and splitting, required meticulous work to protect the clean fruit subsequently harvested. Despite a reduced crop size, Nga Waka managed an average harvest. While this vintage may have a shorter cellaring potential, the expertise of winemakers and viticulturists ensures the best possible outcome.

After contributing over three decades to Nga Waka, Roger is now preparing for retirement, leaving behind a legacy in capable hands. We eagerly anticipate witnessing how Nga Waka's legacy evolves under new stewardship.



  • Nga Waka Chardonnay 2022, Martinborough
  • Nga Waka Sauvignon Blanc 2023, Martinborough
  • Nga Waka Rosé 2023, Martinborough
  • Nga Waka Three Paddles Pinot Noir 2022, Martinborough
  • Nga Waka Pinot Noir 2021, Martinborough
  • Nga Waka Lease Block Pinot Noir 2022, Martinborough

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