John Buck says his induction into the New Zealand Wine Hall of Fame is due to a good decision he made in 1974, while working in the sales side of the wine industry in Auckland but longing to make his own wine.

"I sincerely believe the reason for my good fortune is because of my choice to relocate to Hawke's Bay - I could have gone anywhere. It is a decision I have never regretted," Mr Buck said.

The success of Te Mata Estate in Havelock North could easily be emulated by other wineries because of the climate, soils and people of the region, he said.

"This is great country for the international wine styles - Hawke's Bay has massive potential. We have a brand that is selling to 36 or 37 countries at the top end of the tree and it is all down to Hawke's Bay."


Hall of fame trust chairman Michael Brett said: "His Te Mata Estate has been the standard bearer for New Zealand. In Coleraine he has produced, year after year, a wine that brings international acclaim both to Te Mata and the New Zealand industry."

Mr Buck bought Te Mata Estate, New Zealand's oldest winery, in 1974. He helped with the founding and development of Hawke's Bay Vintners from its early days (now Hawke's Bay Winegrowers), when there were only seven Bay wineries, and was its chairman in the 1980s.

In 1991 he established the Hawke's Bay Charity Wine Auction, which has raised more than $2 million for Hawke's Bay's Cranford Hospice.

He represented Hawke's Bay on the board of the New Zealand Wine Institute through the late 1980s and then, from 1991 to 1996, was its chairman. He also represented the wine industry at international trade negotiations, gaining access to the European Union.

Since Mr Buck's vintage in 1982, Te Mata Estate has been called New Zealand's greatest wine producer. Coleraine has repeatedly been named New Zealand's greatest red wine.

After buying Te Mata Estate, he took possession when the tenancy expired in 1978. The purchase was the culmination of several years of searching with his partner for vineyard sites in an area their research led them to believe had the potential to make fine cabernet/merlot and chardonnay.

Te Mata Estate now has nine Bay vineyard sites, totalling 260 hectares, and grows its own grapes.

The family home Coleraine features on the label of the wine of the same name.

Mr Buck has been involved in wine judging in Australia and New Zealand for many years, joining the National Tasting Panel in 1969.

In 1969 he authored Take a Little Wine and had a regular wine series on Radio New Zealand, as well as fronting documentaries for the same network in the Spectrum series.

In the 1970s, he was a wine consultant for the Tourist Hotel Corporation. He wrote a regular wine column in The NZ Listener and feature articles in the general news media and specialist publications.

In 1979, he was made chairman of judges for the National Wine Show, the first New Zealander to be appointed to the position, and judged in Australia, including twice at the National Show in Canberra.

He was a consultant to Air New Zealand for 22 years, advising on all things relating to their buying, serving, and promotion of wine.

The New Zealand Wine Hall of Fame award will recognise and commemorate individuals who have made major contributions to the development and enhancement of the country's national domestic and export-based wine industry.

But Mr Buck says he has been the passenger on a journey driven by the resources of the Bay and its people.

"It should be me honouring the industry - they are such a terrific bunch of people."

John Buck's list of accolades

The NZ Wine Hall of Fame award follows John Buck's other awards:

1990 Commemoration Medal for Services to New Zealand

1996 OBE for Services to the Wine Industry

1999 Fellowship of the Wine Institute of New Zealand

2001 Honorary Doctorate from Lincoln University