Aboard a bumpy flight to Auckland on Saturday were many Bay identities.

Auckland's Viaduct Events Centre was playing host to the Air New Zealand Wine Awards, hence there were notables from the local wine industry and I also spied this year's Mastermind winner, Havelock North's William Barnes.

The turbulence was bad enough to force the airline to cancel their hot drinks.

As I'm disposed to do, I indulged in some flight-fright and had visions of smoking engines, falling planes and ensuing passenger chaos at 12,000 feet.


Given my livelihood I conjured up would-be headlines: "Bay's best brain, winemakers, die in crash", "Plane tragedy contributes to brain drain", "The vintners' bad luck" or, "Mastermind & wine masters, lost".

At home on Monday I was woken at 12.07am with the house shaking violently. Turbulence, it seems, isn't confined to the air.

Between those two scary phenomena I had the honour of witnessing this province pick up three major crowns at said awards.

Initially the night belonged to Marlborough and Central Otago. My colleagues from those regions at adjacent tables reminded me of that ruthlessly. (Tends to happen when the fourth estate mixes with the wine estates).

Mercifully, after receiving a text towelling for three-quarters of the show, I was saved by the Mission Estate and Villa Maria's category wins.

Compared with the regional wine awards, the national format is naturally more parochial.

So it should be.

Winemakers claiming their vines are the varietal's true provenance (despite judges often finding otherwise) is both fun - and essential to healthy industry competition.