Hawke's Bay is back in the economic big time, with ASB Bank giving the region a five-star rating on the back of a thriving housing market and a bumper grape harvest.
In its latest Regional Economic Scorecard report, ASB rated Hawke's Bay as the nation's third best-performing economy - just below Otago and Bay of Plenty - for the quarter ending July.
"The Hawke's Bay was this quarter's equal-biggest mover, jumping 10 spots in the rankings to third," the report said.
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"As a result, the region grabs this quarter's bronze medal and a five-star rating. In particular, the Bay's housing market is in a sweet spot. Annual house sales growth is running at 15 per cent, while house prices are also increasing at a healthy clip.
"We also hear that the region's grape harvest this year was up a bumper 22 per cent on last year. With that in mind, we raise a glass to the region's economic performance this quarter."
ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny said Hawke's Bay, like other areas with a large horticulture sector, had been amongst the better-performing regions for the last couple of quarters.
"So it's not a surprise to see the Bay doing well."
Hawke's Bay Wine Growers Association chairman Michael Henley said while the harvest was up on both last year and the 10-year average, if the quality of this year's vintage followed through into more sales, the economy would benefit further.
"The previous year  was a relatively difficult vintage, so yields were down at about 33,500 tonnes. The 10 year average for Hawke's Bay yield is about 38,500 tonnes a year. In 2017 we dropped down to about 33,500 tonnes and in 2018 we've gone up to 41,000. So, it's really about 6 per cent higher than the 10-year average and that's great."
The year also provided a "very good vintage" in regards to quality.
"Hawke's Bay is not striving to increase quantity in any great amount but it is striving to create amazing quality wine - and 2018 quality is really good."
Te Mata Estate Winery chief executive Nick Buck said the outstanding quality of this year's harvest had already resulted in "immediate" and "very strong" export benefits for the region's wineries.
"In terms of quality, 2018 is outstanding. We're very, very happy with the results from the vintage.
"We have fabulous wines from Te Mata in 2018, and the first of those - both red and white - are on the market - and selling very well. We are seeing very strong export response to the quality already."
Blending processes for some of the longer matured wines, like the winery's core Cabernet/Merlot Coleraine brand, had just started.
"The early results, again, look absolutely outstanding."
Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wayne Walford said he was not surprised with the result of the ASB ranking.
"I think given the national interest in Hawke's Bay and the desire by many New Zealanders to move to Hawke's Bay, matched with the confidence the housing market presents, good solid business and, dare I say it, a favourable winter, Hawke's Bay deserves the ASB status."
If the Government could provide the business community with greater certainty, things could get even better, he said.
"The next quarter will be telling with the impact of weather on lambing but in the meantime, steady hands on the tiller plus positive messaging seems to be working for this region."