Two stalwarts of Toast Martinborough have pulled out of next month’s festival, with one complaining about overzealous policing of liquor laws.
Heavyweight vineyard Palliser Estate – whose former director, the late Richard Riddiford, was one of the driving forces behind the festival – has dropped out, as has neighbouring Escarpment Vineyard.
Escarpment director and winemaker Larry McKenna said changes to liquor law enforcement “makes it too difficult. They [police] have prosecuted various sites for breaching the liquor act … now, it’s just not worth getting involved”.
“Really, any one of the sites at any time could be considered in breach. It’s jeopardising the future of the event.”
Palliser Estate chief executive Pip Goodwin said Toast used to be “extremely fun for all those involved. However, things have changed, including the environment under which we operate”.
McKenna blamed Wellington police’s “alcohol prevention squad” for taking a harder line than local officers. However, Wellington alcohol harm prevention officer Sergeant Damian Rapira-Davies said police were simply carrying out their jobs.
Their jobs seems to be to try and kill off every fun event in the region.