The Bay is set to stage what may turn out to be one of the most memorable and hotly-contested Air New Zealand Wine Awards in its 28-year history.

Hawke's Bay Winegrowers Association spokesman James Medina said the event's timing could not be better.

The awards is seen as the country's premier competition and it will be staged on November 22 at the Pettigrew Green Arena.

"A lot of 2013 wines will have been released by then and as we know 2013 was a fantastic year - the vintage of a lifetime for many growers and winemakers."


Mr Medina said he had already tasted some 2013 chardonnays and said they reflected the classic vintage, and reinforced the high expectations.

He expected a positive correlation between the quality of the vintage and the competition entries

At competitions where mainly 2012 wines were up for honours, entries were slightly down as it had been a tough vintage.

"But with 2013 if winemakers believe they have a stellar wine then they will enter it - it should see some very high standards and great competition."

Church Road winemaker Chris Scott agreed. "I think there will be strong competition."

Mr Scott said while not all the Church Road wines from the "much awaited" 2013 vintage would be ready for showing, there would be some.

"We tend to release some of our top lines a little later."

He said however he had great confidence in the varietals from the "challenging" 2011 and 2012 seasons as the philosophy was that if a variety was not up to the winery's high standards then they did not go ahead.

Mr Medina said it had been "a few years now" since Hawke's Bay had staged the event, which will be attended by the country's leading winemakers and industry members.

"It acknowledges our place in the country as a leading wine region."

The awards dinner will culminate in the announcement of the most coveted prize of the competition, the Air New Zealand Champion Wine of the Show Trophy.

Last year, the trophy went to Marlborough winery Nautilus Estate for its Nautilus Cuvee Brut NV while Villa Maria's Reserve Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2012 took the New Zealand Reserve Wine of the Show award.

Bay wineries did well, picking up 22 gold medals and two major trophies - Esk Valley for Champions Exhibition Red Wine and Church Road Winery for Champion Open Red Wine.

New Zealand Winegrowers global marketing director Chris Yorke said the Air New Zealand Wine Awards dinner was a major event for the industry.

"Winning a trophy or medal is recognition of the hard work and skill that goes into making the wine, and lets consumers know they are drinking some of the finest wines in the world."

Mr Medina said the awards event would bring many people into the region and he was looking into making the most of that.

"We will be looking to maybe stage another event while these people are here - to run with the awards."