Record Entries for 2008 Air New Zealand Wine Awards Reflect Industry's Increasing Diversity

06 October 2008

Record entries have been received into the 2008 Air New Zealand Wine Awards, with more than 1,750 wines entered from the country’s 10 winegrowing regions.

The 1,755 entries are the highest number in the competition’s almost 30 year history.

Open only to New Zealand wines, the Air New Zealand Wine Awards is the country’s most prestigious wine competition and is organised by the country’s grapegrowing and winemaking industry body, New Zealand Winegrowers.

The entries this year are dominated by Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, with 320 and 296 entries respectively, reflecting the record vintage and the confidence winemakers have in the vintage’s quality.

Additionally, there is a significant increase in entries for aromatic varietals such as Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer. Pinot Gris entries have increased by 46 per cent, to a record 184 entries. Entries in the Gewürztraminer category have increased once again with 68 entries, continuing a four-year trend.

The number of Syrah entries has continued to grow, with 25 per cent more entries in the category this year with 80 entries.

New Zealand Winegrowers global marketing director, Chris Yorke, said the awards recognise the high-quality wines produced by New Zealand winemakers and the exciting diversity of our varietals.

“The Air New Zealand Wine Awards sticker is widely recognised by consumers and helps them with their wine buying, so it’s an extremely important competition for all New Zealand winemakers.

“It’s very encouraging to see entries from emerging varietals such as Pinot Gris, Syrah and Gewürztraminer continuing to increase, confirming the New Zealand wine industry’s increasing diversity. This year, entries in the Pinot Gris category have overtaken Riesling for the first time.”

From the 10 winegrowing regions represented, Marlborough topped the entries with 644 wines, making up 37 per cent of the total entries, followed by Hawke’s Bay with 424. Entries from Central Otago have continued to increase for the fourth year running, with 175 entries this year, up 67 per cent on last year, followed by Nelson with 122. Entries in the Canterbury/Waipara region have risen to 100 entries

“It’s exciting to see some of our emerging wine regions continuing to enter more wines.

”With record number of entries received, this year is set to be an exciting competition,” said Mr Yorke.

The Sustainable category, which was introduced last year, has attracted 180 entries from around the country. This has increased by 73% from last year, demonstrating an increasing dedication to sustainable practices amongst New Zealand winemakers.

These wines are eligible to vie for “Pure Bronze,” “Pure Silver”, “Pure Gold” or “Pure Elite Gold” medals and will compete for the prestigious Bell Gully Champion Sustainable Wine Trophy, which is awarded to the top wine that is sustainably grown and produced.


All wines in the competition will be judged over three days from 3 – 5 November at the ASB Showgrounds in Auckland.

The 26-strong judging team is chaired by Steve Smith, Master of Wine (MW), and includes four international judges – two judges from Australia (Kym Milne MW and Nick Stock), Joshua Greene, editor of much-respected Wine & Spirits magazine in the United States and James Lawther MW, an independent wine writer in Bordeaux.

Medal winning wines will be announced on Wednesday 12 November.

The trophies, including the overall Air New Zealand Champion Wine of the Show Trophy, the Bell Gully Champion Sustainable Wine Trophy and the Elite Gold medal winners will be announced at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards dinner, which will be held in Wellington on Saturday 22 November.

All results will be posted on this website.