Excitement is building as the final preparations for the Bay's premier wine awards are under way.

The 17th annual Hawke's Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards, the country's oldest regional wine competition, will celebrate a number of the region's top wineries on Tuesday night.

With 22 wineries to be recognised and a number of sponsors and industry representatives attending, up to 500 people are expected to fill the marquee situated in the Waikoko Gardens at the Hawke's Bay Showgrounds.

A&P Society business development manager Hillary Riches said it was going to be a "fantastic" evening celebrating a good spread of local wines.


The different winemakers are vying for the 24 awards with Champion Wine of the Show the ultimate prize of the competition.

Up to 400 different wines were tasted by the judging panel made up Rod Easthope, judge chairman, Ralph Kyte-Powell, Ben Glover, Laura Hutchinson, Oliver Masters, Richard Tollenaar, Kate Radburnd, Phil Brodie and associate judge Hannah Burns.

Ms Riches was looking forward to the night and said it would be another "spectacular" evening under the fairy lights in the marquee.

"The marquee is set in a truly gorgeous setting in the Waikoko Gardens."

7 Days comedian, The Rock Breakfast Radio co-host and winner of the Billy T Comedy Award Paul Ego will be MC'ing the event.

The dinner will be prepared by four leading Hawke's Bay chefs with Deliciosa, Clearview Estate Winery, EIT Culinary Arts and Chocolatier Mirams putting together the four course meal.

EIT students from the New Zealand Certificate in Cooking Level Three and Four, the New Zealand Diploma in Patisserie Level Five, the New Zealand Diploma in Cookery Level Five and Travel and Tourism will be assisting the prepping of the dinner and the serving.

"It is a well oiled machine," Ms Riches said.

Local renowned artist David Trubridge is back again this year designing the trophies for the 13th year, which incorporate his original stylised grape leaf motif.

Mr Trubridge said they wanted to create a symbol that became uniquely recognisable to the awards.

"When we were first asked to design the trophy in 2004, I wanted to create an identity which could evolve with ongoing awards.

"Every year since, we have designed a different Champion Wine of the Show Trophy - all incorporating the same lattice leaf work."

Mr Trubridge said over the years they had created bowls of various sizes, wine glasses, a recycled glass leaf and for the past few years a stainless steel wine bottle.

"The trophies have this consistency and overall look which makes them unique. It's unusual in awards to have the same motif running through every single trophy, so we're very proud of that."

Today designer Makiko Smith, who has been with the company for eight years, creates the designs and Andrew Robertson is tasked with the wooden assembly. The steel work is contracted out to Ross MacKay who used to share their workspace in the old freezing works.

The awards are about identifying, promoting and celebrating excellence in wine making in the Hawke's Bay region as well as endorsing the contribution viticulture has to the economic, cultural and social well-being of Hawke's Bay.

Winners will be announced at the awards dinner on Tuesday, October 17 at the Waikoko Gardens, Hawke's Bay Showgrounds.