Church Road and Esk Valley wineries triumphed with a total of five wins for Hawke's Bay at the 68th 2020 Royal Easter Show Wine Awards.

Church Road has won big with awards for two of their wines and chief winemaker Chris Scott winning the Auckland Agricultural & Pastoral Association Gold Medal for Winemaker of the Year.

Scott started at Church Road in 1995 working part-time while studying at EIT.

"It was fantastic [to win] but it's very much a team effort," he said.


"I think sometimes it should be winery of the year not winemaker, the chardonnay particularly, so much of that wine is about the viticulture," he said.

The Church Road McDonald Series Chardonnay 2018 won the Guala Closures Award for Champion Wine of the Show and the New World Award for Champion Chardonnay.

The Church Road Grand Reserve Syrah 2017 won the Esvin Wine Resources Award for Champion Syrah.

"It's always a fantastic recognition for the winery. We take quality very seriously so it's great to have that recognition from our peers," Scott said.

Esk Valley also won at the awards, taking away the ASB Showgrounds Award for Champion Cabernet Sauvignon & Blends for the Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Malbec 2018, a special occasion wine.

They also won the MyFarm Award for Champion Merlot & Blends for the Esk Valley Gimblett Gravels Hawke's Bay Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, a readily available and affordable wine.

Esk Valley senior winemaker Gordon Russell said it was very rare to win both categories which made the win "unique and special".

Awards director Terry Dunleavy said, "The judges were impressed by overall general high quality of entries this year, especially in the varieties sauvignon blanc and chardonnay.


"Not only was there an increase in the number of gold medals award to the top sauvignon blancs, but the wines revealed greater diversity of styles, more complexity and showed stronger evidence of the flinty, minerally flavours that the variety can achieve.

"With chardonnay, there was this year a less heavy-handed approaching to the winemaking, allowing the variety to better express New Zealand's natural cool climate capacity to accentuate fruit flavours and varietal characters.

"This year's show demonstrated why there is such a demand from now over 100 countries throughout the world for our wines based on their clean and distinctive varietal characters that distinguish our wines from those of older, longer established wine regions that sell for prices much higher than ours.

"Not only is our future as a wine export nation assured and capable of further growth, but when all the other goodies that we export come to a table overseas, it is only the bottle of wine with its label intact that proudly proclaims its country of origin," Dunleavy said.

The awards is the country's oldest wine competition and was held on Saturday, March 7 at The Pullman Hotel in Auckland.

The 2020 judging panel consisted of 22 judges including eight associate judges in training and Jane Faulkner from Australia.

Mike DeGaris was chair of judges and Jane Cooper deputy chair.

"The entries have been fantastic wines. Previous medal winners and reputable producers once again participating. There is a diverse range of styles represented in this year's competition," DeGaris said.