Wednesday, 18 December 2019 09:52

Cellar Door of the Year

Written by  Staff Reporters
Church Road's Hawke’s Bay cellar door. Church Road's Hawke’s Bay cellar door.

The importance of cellar doors can never be underestimated. 

They are the rock stars of the wine visitor industry and are the first contact that many of our regions’ visitors encounter.

Those visitors, especially internationals, tend to stay longer and spend more and depending on their impressions gained during the cellar door visit can  become loyal brand advocates or the opposite. Which is why the NZW Cellar Door of the Year competition was instigated this year.

Wineries throughout the country were encouraged to enter, with 32 cellar doors from eight regions taking part. 

There were a  number of facets that were considered by the panel of judges. Firstly a written submission that outlined how the Cellar Doors  demonstrated leadership, what their point of difference was, operational excellence, organisational development and the impact and outcomes.   

The judging panel consisted of Bob Campbell MW, and two tourism consultants. From the 32 entries, six were selected as finalists. Then the true testing began with mystery shoppers visiting all six, twice. This time the cellar doors were judged on their customer service, the external presentation, the internal facilities and other services offered.

Gregg Anderson, General Manager Qualmark and one of the judges of the Cellar Door of the Year commented that the judges were impressed by the entries to this year’s inaugural Awards.  Particularly impressive was the storytelling of the entrants - these captured a sense of history, the challenge and innovation of winemaking in New Zealand, a strong sense of the influence of terroir on results, and often the generational story of the vineyards or winemakers.

Also evident was the strong sense of manaatikanga - genuine authentic kiwi hospitality displayed at the Cellar Door through highly trained and enthusiastic teams, and kaitiakitangi - a sense of guardianship of the land coming through very strongly particularly around the sustainable practices of vintners.  “These are all hugely important aspects of the visitor or tourism experience, and are aligned closely with the highly successful New Zealand tourism international branding of100% Pure New Zealand,” he says. 

The finalists

Tantalus Estate, Waiheke Island 

A very strong emphasis on staff training, customer engagement, visitor satisfaction and sales performance.  A key focus on sustainability particularly in day to day operations. 

Church Road, Hawke’s Bay   

Good systems, good planning, training and results.  An effective celebration of wine in the past and present with an eye on the future. So many opportunities for different, immersive and interactive experiences for a wide range for visitors. 

Craggy Range, Hawke’s Bay 

A considered approach including training, facilities and cellar door experiences, with strong metrics and systems. Submission displayed a real sense of arrival, manaakitanga, thoughtfulness and consideration to their cellar door experience. 

Cloudy Bay, Marlborough   

A comprehensive cellar door experience, provided key examples of going above and beyond in many areas including multi-lingual staff.   Great storytelling of Cloudy Bay and Marlborough. A very professional, engaging, reactive and proactive and attractive proposition. 

Kinross, Central Otago     

Great storytelling showcasing stories of all six winemakers, their characters, wine and terroir.  Strong metrics and responsiveness to feedback and need for change to accommodate growth.

Chard Farm, Central Otago  

An excellent appreciation of being in the heart of a tourism region – a strong focus on the customer, options of multiple languages, references to the scenery while still maintaining a focus on the delivery of an outstanding cellar door experience.

Due to the high standard of submissions the judges also highly commended a further four wineries:

Bladen Wines, Marlborough

Brancott Estate, Marlborough

Forrest Wines, Marlborough

Misha’s Vineyard, Central Otago

And the winner of the inaugural Cellar Door of the Year 2019, as announced at the Wine of the Year Awards Dinner is - Church Road, Hawke’s Bay. As well as taking out the title, Church Road will also receive a Qualmark Visitor Activity assessment. 

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