Clearview Estate Winery owner Tim Turvey says an informed person hosting wine tastings is the most important ingredient for a successful cellar door.
"Somebody that knows what they are talking about and is a winemaker or has a winemaking degree," he said.
Having accolades with a good story behind the wine also helped at the cellar door he says is the busiest cellar door in Hawke's Bay "by a long shot", he said.
"It's not fantastic wine because we say it is - it is a fantastic wine because others say it is."
Clearview has 30 styles of wine "so that adds complexity to the tasting".
Also complex is his recipe for success: having the winemaker or owner on site, a happy/personable welcome, special offerings only available at the cellar door, photographs of the vineyards and winery, plus tours of them.
Unlike most cellar doors there is no tasting charge at Clearview, a charge which most wineries refund if a purchase is made.
"I haven't charged in 30 years and am not planning on starting," Mr Turvey said.
"Running the restaurant, making the wine ourselves and selling it at the cellar door - life is too busy to be running round after $2 and $5 charges for tastings.
"We tried it many years ago and it was just too complex when you are as busy as we are."
He is often on site and said any winery with the owner or winemaker standing by the bar had extra credibility.
Making people feel welcome "goes without saying" and was a prerequisite for any cellar door.
"Make sure they are welcome, be informative, have a greater array of wines and just look professional and be able to tell the story of the winery."