Tauranga's Mills Reef Winery has scooped a top award in New Zealand's oldest wine competition.

The Bethlehem-based winery won the Wineworks Trophy for Champion Cabernet Sauvignon and Blends for its Mills Reef Reserve Cabernet Merlot 2016 at the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards gala dinner, held in Auckland on Saturday.

Mills Reef co-founder and chief winemaker Tim Preston said: "We're absolutely thrilled that this wine has been recognised and held in such high esteem.

"We're extremely excited about the quality and promise that all of our 2016 vintage red wines hold, and rate this vintage as one of our finest. This trophy is testament to that belief."

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It also scooped a gold medal for the wine in the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Predominant Blends one-year-old (2016) and older class for the wine, along with the Clearview Estate's Old Olive Block 2016 and Villa Maria's Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2015.

In addition to the Champion Trophy, Mills Reef also received two Silver medals for its 2016 Reserve Merlot and 2016 Reserve Merlot Malbec. Both wines are also from their famed Mere Road Vineyard.

The judges' decision on the winning Champion Trophy wine was a close three-way contest between top-rated producers.

Preston said all recipients were "magnificent wines which we respect highly, but also demonstrates the tremendous quality we're seeing across the board in our 2016 reds, and are so excited about".

Senior winemaker Paul Dawick (left) and chief winemaker Tim Preston toast Mills Reef Winery's award at the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards. Photo / George Novak
Senior winemaker Paul Dawick (left) and chief winemaker Tim Preston toast Mills Reef Winery's award at the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards. Photo / George Novak

Mills Reef's trophy-winning champion Reserve Cabernet Merlot was produced from grapes grown in its famed Mere Road Vineyard in the renowned Gimblett Gravels Winegrowing District.

Mills Reef general manager Nick Aleksich said the recognition was an exciting start for our first 2016 vintage red wine releases.

"But, right now, we're absolutely delighted with this Champion Trophy win. It's a great honour, and our team are celebrating."