Hawke's Bay wine industry hosts international experts

Some of the world's most respected wine experts are spending the next two days in Hawke's Bay, as part of a wider visit to New Zealand wine regions.

Forty International Masters of Wine (MWs) are in the country, and have already visited Auckland and Waiheke before arriving in Hawke's Bay.

Michael Henley, Chairman of Hawke's Bay Winegrowers said it was an amazing opportunity to showcase the region's wine industry.

"There are only 378 MWs in the world, so to have 40 of them in Hawke's Bay is a once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity we are really excited about," he said.

It's the first time since 2005 that an official Institute of Masters of Wine tour has been to New Zealand - and the interest was so high from around the globe, there was a waitlist of 15 MWs wanting to join the tour.

The MWs who received balloted places on this trip are from 12 different countries and represent at least as many markets, working in trade, retail, education, journalism, buying, and consultancy roles amongst others. 

The group takes a vineyard walk at Elephant Hill Lodge.
The group takes a vineyard walk at Elephant Hill Lodge. Photo credit: Supplied

"This is a group of highly trained and committed wine professionals looking to gain in-depth knowledge of New Zealand wine and its regions," said Mr Henley. 

Emma Jenkins MW, one of New Zealand's 13 resident Masters of Wine, said the group was excited to arrive in Hawke's Bay and looking forward to walking the vineyards of Gimblett Gravels and Te Awanga coast as well as all the other amazing activities awaiting them.

The group will spend two nights and one day learning about Hawke's Bay wines, key varietals, soil types and future processes and plans. 

Highlights of their Hawke's Bay Tour include a Sub Regional Syrah Masterclass - led by Warren Gibson (Trinity Hill), Hugh Crichton (Vidal), and Julian Grounds (Craggy Range) - where 16 of Hawke's Bay's most iconic Syrahs will be examined. There will also be an in-depth look at Aged and New Chardonnays, before dining at Craggy Range, where 15 Hawke's Bay wineries will show their wines over dinner. 

Mr Henley said he was grateful that regional partners have enabled the group to visit.

"Hawke's Bay Airport, Napier City Council, Great Things Grow Here and Hawke's Bay Tourism have all contributed financially to enable this trip."

A Master of Wine holds the most respected title in the world of wine, and is awarded this coveted title only once they have proven their understanding of all aspects of wine by passing the Master of Wine examination, recognised worldwide for its rigour and high standards. 

The MW Tour started in Auckland and Waiheke before arriving in Hawke's Bay, and will continue to Martinborough, Marlborough, Canterbury and Central Otago. It has been organised by dedicated New Zealand MWs Jane Skilton and Emma Jenkins.