Making a cellar a seller

From left to right; John Lowes, Bladen; Helen Neame, Hunter’s Wines; Dave Macdonald, Bladen; Julie Yonge, Hunter’s Wines (Photo: Supplied)

First impressions are lasting impressions. I get a lot of feedback from students who’ve had both good and bad experiences at winery cellar doors. If the person behind the counter is knowledgeable, friendly, has empathy and enthusiasm you are far more likely to enjoy their wines and to become a regular customer.

I’ve recently begun to research and write a Lonely Planet guide to New Zealand wine trails, so subconsciously run through a check-list of features whenever I visit a cellar door for the first time. I loved Akarua’s new cellar door/restaurant/café near Arrowtown – definitely worth a detour. Other favourites include Pegasus Bay (Waipara), Mahana (Nelson), Cloudy Bay (Marlborough), Ata Rangi (Wellington Wine Country), Craggy Range (Hawke’s Bay), Matawhero (Gisborne), Villa Maria (Auckland), Brick Bay Wines (Matakana) and Marsden Estate (Northland).

Wine Marlborough recently announced their Cellar Door of the Year Competition Winners. Bladen and Hunter’s Wines were announced joint winners of the title, with Wairau River coming in third place. Alongside Bladen, Hunter’s Wines and Wairau River, the finalists included Hans Herzog and Johanneshof Cellars. Bladen owner, Dave Macdonald also took out the title of the Wine Marlborough Cellar Door Personality of the Year alongside Brancott Estate Cellar Door and Restaurant host Kimberly Matthews. Both Dave and Kimberly received a mystery shop score of 100%.

I’ve never visited Bladen or Johanneshof. I feel another detour coming on.

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