An influx of international visitors has ensured Esk Valley Wines enjoys a busy season.

The boutique Napier winery has been a fixture on the Hawke's Bay wine scene since 1933, and usually experiences a very busy period between Christmas and the New Year, before slowing down at the start of January.

But not this year, cellar door manager Sue Cranswick said.

"It's been a lot busier," she said.


"We've had a lot of internationals for this time of year, especially over Christmas."

Ms Cranswick knows what she is talking about - she has been front-of-house at the winery for 25 years.

Situated in Bayview near both major State Highways meant the winery was never short on visitors, she said.

"If there's a lot of people coming into Hawke's Bay then we're pretty spoilt."

As well as being drawn to Hawke's Bay for food, and Art Deco, Ms Cranswick said she thought visitors were impressed with the variety of wines produced in Hawke's Bay.

"We're well known for our reds and our chardonnay, but we do pretty good varietals as well."

This season an old favourite has been tickling visitors' taste buds the most.

"The merlot cabernet blend, that's what we're well known for, and people still love that".


The cellar door was a crucial part of the winery, she said.

"We're sort of the face of the winery," she said.

"You've got to get it right because people will go away and the experience they've had at the cellar door will have a lot to do with how they feel about that particular wine."

This was especially important if the visitor was from a country Esk Valley exported to.

The many international visitors through the winery this summer had shared "absolutely tremendous" comments with Ms Cranswick about Hawke's Bay, and its wine.

"They've been very, very impressed.

"A lot of New Zealand wine is going internationally now and I think they [tourists] know a lot more about New Zealand wine than they used to.

"Their knowledge of New Zealand and what we do well is great."​