For the Sacred Hill winery crew in Hastings, there was never any doubt about having another crack at turning one of their wines into gold this year.
Last year, they picked up a gold medal at the New World Wine Awards and marketing manager Tim Hansen said there was never any doubt they would be in the hunt again.
"It is a good one to win and has real commercial benefits — we are definitely entering again," he said, adding that at this stage what they were planning to put forward for judging was still being considered.
Hawke's Bay wines have long tasted gold, silver and bronze success at the annual awards, which are now in their 16th year.
Last year's awards were no exception, with Hawke's Bay winemakers picking up a total of 116 medal wines overall — with five prestigious golds among the top 50.
As well as Sacred Hill, golds were picked up by Squawking Magpie Gravel Syrah 2016, Esk Valley Hawke's Bay Merlot Rose 2017 and Esk Valley doing the double with its Cellar Selection Syrah 2015 and Hawke's Bay Merlot Rose 2017.
Entries for the 2018 awards opened late last month and winemakers have until June 22 to get their entries in.
To be eligible, entries must retail for $25 or less and there must be at least 5000 bottles (3000 for niche varietals) available to meet consumer demand.
And there was clearly a demand, a Foodstuffs NZ spokesperson said, pointing out that the awards was the only New Zealand wine competition that saw an increase in sales as a direct result of winning medals.
"We definitely saw a spike after winning gold last year."
Julie Ibbotson, marketing manager for Saint Clair Family Estate Wines, which picked up two golds for a red and a white at last year's awards, also noted that.
"Our champion titles enhanced the perception of the Saint Clair brand with New World shoppers and in turn helped increase sales across our entire portfolio of wines."
Following the announcement of the 2017 winners, New World reported that more than 345,000 bottles of the top 50 judged wines, with a retail values of around $4.9 million, sold during the following six weeks.
The three-day judging process, which will get under way in Wellington at the end of July, will be led by chair of judges Tim Harre, who will be at the helm for the 11th year running, and said that like a fine wine, the awards continued to improve with age.
"The integrity and value of the New World Wine Awards is a winning combination that grabs the attention of winemakers and wine-lovers alike," Harre said.
He will be joined on the 16-strong judging panel by master of wine Tan Yin Hsien, who runs the Singapore-based Taberna Wine Academy and will be the international judging component.
The full results of the 2018 awards will be announced later in the year.