The colourful history of winemaking in Hawke's Bay, and the equally interesting personalities behind it, have been bottled in book form to create a rich, literary vintage.

The book, entitled Wine: Stories from Hawke's Bay, was sparked late last year by Tom Belford who gathered a writing, archival and photography team to turn what he said was a dream to reality.

The result has the industry, locally and nationally, abuzz with expectation and after yesterday's launch at the Mission Estate the book is even set to go international.

Hawke's Bay Winegrowers Association chairman Michael Henley said several of the guests were part of an international media group here to engage in FAWC activities and would spread the word about a unique region with a unique history.


"It is amazing and from our perspective we are ecstatic to see this come out - we can show the whole rich heritage we have here in Hawke's Bay and New Zealand."

Mr Henley said he had been reading an advance copy over the past few days and had been hugely impressed.

"It is very much a people-driven book - a lot of personalities there," he said.

Susie Devonshire, taken on by Mr Belford to be the project manager for the book, described what had transpired as " a wonderful journey".

"It has been a huge project and a lot of hard work and I'm so proud of the whole team effort."

Author Mark Sweet spent about a third of the year contacting and interviewing a large number of winemakers from past and present, while Hastings photographer Tim Whittaker provided the images.

Winemaker Peter Cowley from Te Mata wrote a section of the book while Max Parkes designed it.

Ms Devonshire said she got quickly involved in the hunt for archive material "from all over the country".

Hunting down old photos and images could be a bit of a wild goose chase at times, she said with a laugh. "But we got some wonderful stuff."

The book was something to be appreciated by more than just the region's wine industry.

"Everyone in Hawke's Bay can be proud - it's their story, too."

The book features the four stages of winemaking in the Bay - its beginnings (1836 to 1920), the "dark ages" (1920 to 1975), its renaissance (1975 to 1995) and flourishing times (1995 to today).

Many of the leading names in the industry were at the launch - Villa Maria's Sir George Fistonich, Alwyn Corban, John Hancock from Te Mata, Chris Pask, Mission's Paul Mooney, Clearview's Tim Turvey and Tony Bish from Sacred Hill.

And their united opinion was illustrated in the most appropriate way possible - with glasses raised in a toast.