The selling-out of the inaugural Bridge Pa Wine Festival last summer has led to a second event being staged but on a greater scale. As Bridge Pa Triangle chairman Paul Ham, of Alpha Domus Winery, said – “we will now raise the bar”. The first festival was hosted by eight wineries in the Bridge Pa “triangle” and was launched to celebrate a region Mr Ham said had become recognised as one of the country’s leading wine-producing areas. He said the inaugural festival attracted a huge amount of interest, locally and nationally, and the 1000 tickets to a variety of events taking place at the eight wineries had all sold out. “I talked to a lot of people throughout the event and came across quite a few from outside the region,” he said, adding the signs were all good that would only increase. “We’ve got the first one under our belt and there will have been a lot of word of mouth about it.” The response showed it had the potential to become one of New Zealand’s most popular wine festivals on the summer events calendar, and that response meant pumping it up for next January.

Mr Ham said the members of the Bridge Pa Triangle group, which was formed in 2010, had decided to increase the number of tickets as well as “enhance the experience” at the eight participating wineries. All the wineries showcased their wines, matched by good food options and entertainment – “we will now raise the bar again and enhance the food and entertainment offerings at each winery”. Hawke’s Bay Tourism general manager Annie Dundas was delighted to hear the festival would be staged again. “It’s great to see the Bridge Pa Festival running again in January,” she said. “That’s our busiest month for visitors and it’s important to give them a real choice of things to do.” The festival was staged across one day between 10am and 5pm, and Mr Ham said it had worked well. “The beauty of wineries in the Bridge Pa region is that we are all in relative close proximity to each other, so getting around whether by bus or cycling on the cycle tracks and enjoying the experience at each winery is achievable in a day.” Special buses were put on from Napier, Hastings and Havelock North and the event attracted visitors to the region as well as locals. The wineries involved are Sileni Estates, Paritua, Alpha Domus, Abbey Cellars, Triangle Cellars, Ngatarawa and Ash Ridge. Mr Ham said while the “triangle” group was focused on Bridge Pa it was not solely on promoting that wine-growing area – “but the entire region’s wine story”.

-Tickets for the January 23, 2016, festival wil be on sale on the 1st October 2015.