For Crownthorpe-based Monowai Estate the timing of enlisting a New York agent to help spread their wines into the valuable United States market could not have been better.

Shortly after getting the agent on board, they got the news they had picked up a gold medal and two bronzes at the 2016 New York International Wine Competition.

The gold went to the Monowai sauvignon blanc 2015, and the bronzes for the pinot gris 2015 and pinot noir 2014.

"We are really delighted with the results," Monowai Estate owner and winemaker Emma Lowe said.


"We haven't entered pinot gris and sauv' blanc in any other shows but we had our fingers crossed."

She said the pinot noir had also picked up a bronze at the International Wine Challenge in London, so she and her partner Marcelo Nunez had hoped it would do well.

"But different markets, different palates, it's always hard to tell."

The New York event is a competition with a difference as it is marketed as the sole trade-only awards with a blind judging panel, and with only about 20 per cent of the wines receiving awards it is known for its high standards.

Held right across from the Rockefeller Centre in the heart of the city, the blindfolded judges included people in the wine trade - retail store buyers, sommeliers, restaurant beverage directors, hoteliers, and distributors and importers.

The wines are categorised slightly differently than standard awards that put the same varieties in with one another without considering their price point.

The New York awards look at price points within the varieties, which is more consistent with consumer buying patterns.

Ms Lowe said having an agent in New York would add extra impact as the city was "right up there" as a food and travel destination. "So to have our wine in front of multiple high-powered buyers in one of the biggest markets in the world is a significant opportunity for us as a boutique Hawke's Bay winery."


The first vintage by Ms Lowe and her Chilean husband, Mr Nunez, was in 2005.