Providing a "not flash just friendly" approach, with plenty of fine wine and some sharp knowledge about the whole wine scene, came up trumps for Junction Wines at the annual Hawke's Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards this week.

For the past three years the winery has made the final six in the Jenny Nilsson House of Travel-sponsored Hawke's Bay Cellar Door of the Year competition but this year they hit the top.

Sileni Estate had won it for the past two years and were going for the trifecta of titles, but the Central Hawke's Bay vineyard steered by the Ashworth family, John and Jo and winemaker son Leith and his wife Tracy, got the nod.

What made it extra special was the public vote, because the winery is slightly off the more beaten track than other Bay wineries.


"People don't know us as well so it is exciting to think we got that public vote," Mrs Ashworth said.

The competition saw Junction face off with five other wineries in staging a mini cellar door set up as part of the Hawke's Bay Farmers Market this month.

They were tested on wine skills and presentation - as well as getting a visit from a mystery shopper.

Mrs Ashworth isn't sure who was on cellar door duties on that occasion, but whoever it may have been had simply carried on the family philosophy.

Mrs Ashworth said the approach to visitors who called was easy-going and comfortable. "Just down-home Kiwi hospitality with some top-quality wines."

About 20 years ago the couple put down a trial block near the farm they have run for 29 years, but they really started pushing ahead 12 years ago.

The awards followed. Mrs Ashworth reeled off medals and accolades for all eight varieties of wine they make at Junction, including pinot gris, pinot noir and chardonnay.

"The wine sells itself, so we just like to have a chat with people and have a yarn."

It was pure country comfort, Mrs Ashworth said - making people feel welcome and answering the questions they may have about the wines and how they are created.

"We love it," she said. "It's not a job - it's farm in the morning and cellar door in the afternoon."