When winemaker and viticulturist Rudi Bauer, of Cromwell, received a phone call in December to say he had won an industry leadership award, he did not believe it.

He was to receive magazine The Gourmet Traveller Wine's ''New Zealand Winemaker of the Year awards 2019'' Leadership award for his achievements, leadership and service to the Central Otago and national wine industry.

''I didn't know I had been nominated,'' Bauer said.

''It was out of the blue.

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''I thought they had made a mistake but Bob Campbell called and he was quite serious about it.''

Bauer is the general manager and a shareholder of Quartz Reef Wines, which he, Trevor Scott and John Perriam established in 1996.

''It effectively recognises my vision and my contribution to the New Zealand wine industry, and in particular Central Otago,'' he said.

Bauer received a framed certificate and a handmade Riedel crystal decanter at a function at The Grand, Auckland last month.

Bauer displays the Gourmet Traveller Wine's 2019 Leadership award he won for his achievements and service to the Central Otago and national wine industry. Photo / Yvonne O'Hara
Bauer displays the Gourmet Traveller Wine's 2019 Leadership award he won for his achievements and service to the Central Otago and national wine industry. Photo / Yvonne O'Hara

He said the event was a chance to meet old friends.

''It was great food, great wine and a great reunion.''

In his acceptance speech he said he was proud to be a part of the wine industry and to have created a small part of New Zealand history.

The judges included Master of Wine Bob Campbell, wine judge and critic Raymond Chan, and Master sommelier Cameron Douglas.

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''It is like the Oscars for winemakers,'' Bauer said.

Bauer is from Austria and learned viticulture and winemaking there and in Germany.

He came to New Zealand in 1985 to work at Mission Bay as an assistant winemaker.

He was Rippon Vineyard's trophy-winning viticulturist and winemaker from 1989 to 1992 before going to Canterbury.

He returned to Central Otago in 1997 and planted Quartz Reef's first vines at Bendigo in 1998.

Awards include the 1991 Royal Agricultural Society of New Zealand (RAS) Easter Wine Show Champion Winemaker of the Year and the 2010 RAS Winemaker of the Year.

Bauer was a Central Otago Pinot Noir Ltd director for 14 years and its chairman for four.

He and Alan Brady began the Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration in 2000 and Bauer was a board member on the International Pinot Noir Celebrations in 2004 in Wellington.

''I have represented New Zealand and Central Otago at international master classes,'' he said.

He has also spoken at many national and international events and is always keen to promote the region's and the country's wines.

He said wine was the drink that he wanted to share with friends over good food.

''The key for me is wine, a media for communication and that is what drives me.

''It is good to have something that comes from a beautiful place [Central Otago] and has the ability to be shared with others.

''Each region has a different taste, such as pinot noir in Central Otago and sauvignon blanc from Marlborough.

''It is what we do best.

''Wine is part of Central Otago's heritage'', something very specific.''