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EIT Plays Host To Judging In Hawke's Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards

About 400 of Hawke’s Bay’s finest wines have been sampled in an intense two-day judging process held at EIT last week.

The wines, entered into the 21st annual Hawke's Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards, were tasted and scrutinised by two panels of two senior judges and two associate judges each at EIT’s wharenui, Te Ara o Tāwhaki, on the Hawke’s Bay Campus in Taradale on Thursday and Friday. EIT is a sponsor of the awards.

EIT’s Viticulture and Wine Science Programme Coordinator and Lecturer Tim Creagh said the School of Viticulture and Wine Science was pleased to host the judges for the country’s oldest regional wine competition.

The objective of the awards is to identify, promote and celebrate excellence in wine making in the region as well as endorsing the contribution viticulture has to the economic, cultural and social well-being of Hawke’s Bay.

As stewards of the judging process, EIT School of Viticulture and Wine Science staff and students sort and pour each glass of wine before it goes in front of the judges. This is done to ensure anonymity.

“Because it’s blind, the judges don’t know which wine is which, they only know that they’re all from Hawke’s Bay and what vintage,” says Tim.

“They taste each class one at a time, and it’s just a small amount of each wine - they don’t need a lot because it’s just a sniff, a taste and away they go.”

Chairman of Judges Ant Mackenzie, who is a former sensory science lecturer at EIT, said this year’s judging had gone particularly well.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, it is one of the only wine awards to have gone ahead, and because of the lack of nationwide shows, Ant said it made the regional ones more important.

This year, they have also adopted a “more robust” process of judging that includes a lot of discussion.

“We are looking at the wines much closer than we did say three or four years ago and I think that’s the system that we’re using now because it involves more discussion rather than allocating points.

Unlike last year where all judges were from Hawke’s Bay, Ant says this year they sought two senior judges, and one associate judge from Wairarapa, Gisborne and Taranaki.

They, along with the other judges, made for an “expert” panel with nationwide, and international experience. “We are happy with the depth and quality of judges we’ve got.”

Having the opportunity to be an associate judge is the chance of a lifetime for Jordyn Harper, who is in her third year of the Bachelor of Viticulture and Bachelor Wine Science concurrent degree through EIT’s School of Viticulture and Wine Science.

The 27-year-old was awarded the A&P Young Vintners Scholarship at the Hawke’s Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards last year, and as a result of the award, was offered a vintage position at Craggy Range for the harvest season of '21 and a chance as an associate judge.

Jordyn says she sought advice from key people prior to the judging – most of which was to “stick to your gut”.

In his second year as Chairman of Judges, and twentieth in the judging scene, Ant says the Wine Awards are constantly evolving.

“There were classes that we might have had in the past that we don’t have now and then there will be introduced classes, so we are reflecting what’s planted and what’s been entered.”

EIT viticulture and wine science students are also offered the chance to have their wine judged by the same panel.

The Hawke's Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards dinner is due to be held at the Hawke’s Bay Showgrounds on October 14. Staff and students from EIT’s School of EIT School of Tourism and Hospitality will cater and serve the three-course meal at the Awards.

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