Up to 400 local wines impressed the judging panel for the 17th Hawke's Bay A and P Bayleys Wine Awards during the past couple of days.
The buildup to the awards next month is well under way and chair judge Rod Easthope said going by the wines in the trophy lineup the winemakers had done an amazing job.
"Hawke's Bay has such a breadth of wine-making talent and world-class wines. It has made our job these past two days a real pleasure."
Joining Mr Easthope is international judge, wine columnist and Cuisine writer Ralph Kyte-Powell from Melbourne.
Mr Kyte-Powell said the Bay's traditional strength, the chardonnay Bordeaux blends and syrah had never been better.
"The award-winning wines stand alongside the great wines of the world. New Zealand wine is hugely exciting and Hawke's Bay wine is one of the jewels in the crown."
Judge Olly Masters said there had also been a good range of styles with people more eager to try new things.
"There is good quality of fruit, good vintage and the knowledge to produce different types of wines, there isn't just one way to do it."
Mr Easthope said judging had become more and more difficult, as it was rare to come across a wine with a "glaring" technical fault because of the wine-making knowledge.
"You could say it's become more of a fashion show, where judging comes down to subjectivity, not just technical correctness."
Also on the panel are international wine judge and Zephyr winemaker Ben Glover, Consumer magazine wine taster Laura Hutchinson, Richard Tollenaar and highly decorated winemaker Kate Radburnd.
The awards evening is on October 17 in the Waikoko Gardens at Hawke's Bay Showgrounds.