Maxime Cavey from Hawke's Bay Wine says attendees follow a map to taste and buy their way around an array of local wine producers 'popping up' in hospitality establishments.
And the Wine Walks are just one of the ways the region has adaped to thrive in the uncertain times of Covid-19, she says. They also plan to go ahead with the Hawke's Bay Wine Car Boot Party on 5 November, following on from the success of the inaugural event last year, held to mitigate the loss of international visitors to the region's wineries. The event, which is part of the Food and Wine Classic (F.A.W.C.!) gives consumers the chance to discover, taste and purchase from local producers, "many of whom do not have cellar doors," she says.
Both the Wine Walks and the Car Boot Party are designed to be adaptable to alert levels by being easily postponed, and have proven an excellent tool to give wine companies exposure when they need it most. That said, Maxime says companies have reported great sales in the latest lockdowns, with the digital tools developed after New Zealand's first Level 4 lockdown standing the region in good stead this time around.
Maxime says direct to customer sales have gone "through the roof", according to some of the local producers. "Much higher than they were last time, and people are geared up to do them." She believes that's down to consumers being more relaxed about online wine purchases, and companies making their wines far more accessible. Many have improved their branding, established Shopify accounts, and ensured their websites work well for the consumer, "so it's easy to find the product and it's easy to buy and have delivered". Companies she has spoken to have reported really strong sales, "and it's everyone from small to large". Refined marketing has been backed up by "four cracking vintages on the go," she says, happy to see "fantastic" 2021 wines already on the market.
Dates to watch
Ahuriri Winter Wine Walk - new date to be notified in Level 1
Spring Wine Walk incorporated into TASTE Hastings - Friday 8 October, East Block, Hastings
F.A.W.C.! Hawke's Bay Wine Car Boot Party - Friday 5 November, 5-8pm in the gardens of the A&P showgrounds
Hawke's Bay Wine Auction - rescheduled to Saturday 13 November