Over the past six years Sileni Estates has picked up four Hawke's Bay Cellar Door of the Year awards at the annual Hawke's Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards and one of the front-of-house team there, Simone McCormack-Hartley, said they were aiming to make it five.

"Oh we're going for it," she said as the cellar door crew prepared for Sunday's challenge, which has a public touch in terms of scoring points.

Sileni Estates is one of the six finalists set to take on the challenges which will be put their way at the Farmers Market in Hastings.

Also vying for the award which is sponsored by Jenny Nilsson House of Travel in Hastings and Havelock North are Vidal Estate, Ash Ridge Wines, Junction Wines, Pask Winery and Black Barn Vineyard.


The six were drawn from 22 winery cellar doors across the region which were visited by "mystery shoppers" during August and September.

They were marked on appearance of the venue and the staff, as well as access, experience of the staff, their knowledge, friendliness even down to the tasting glasses used.

The six finalists now face the next series of challenges at the market which will be steered by wine writer and leading judge Yvonne Lorkin.

The finalists will set a cellar door on site then undergo a series of challenges including blind tasting reds and white and identifying the varieties through to being questioned about wine and tourism across the Bay in general.

Ms Lorkin will present and mark the cellar door crews with the wines she has chosen for the blind tasting.

The final part of the challenge is for the six teams to run their "pop-up" cellar doors for an hour to pick up as many public votes as they can.

The top three chosen will then go on to the big awards dinner event at Waikoko Gardens on October 18 where the ultimate winner will be announced.

"We are pretty confident but these are all great cellar doors," Ms McCormack-Hartley said.


"And we all work in really well together," she said, adding that it was not only about getting the word through about their own wines, but also highlighting the winemaking virtues of the whole Bay region.

"It's all about integrating with people and to give them a great experience - and we do tell them about other wineries - it's all about Hawke's Bay."

However, on Sunday it was each to their own, with the current award holders Sileni keen and determined to take the title again.

"Oh it'll be pretty cut-throat," Ms McCormack-Hartley said with a laugh.

"We'll all be going for it."