Wine: Stories from Hawke’s Bay

The history of Hawke’s Bay’s internationally acclaimed wine industry has been told at last. In a beautiful hard-cover book, published by BayBuzz this October.

It’s a lively account. Writer Mark Sweet sets out the evolution from Hawke’s Bay’s first vines into today’s multi-million dollar industry. Sweet deftly supplements well-researched historic fact, with stories of Hawke’s Bay’s iconic wineries and personalities, and personal anecdotes about key individual players and events.

Peter Cowley of Te Mata Estate discusses the region’s natural attributes for grape-growing, and explains the winemaking process in a major ‘soil to bottle’ feature.

Stunning images showcase the stories, with a mix of evocative archival images, and extensive original photography shot by Tim Whittaker.

Introduced by Bob Campbell MW, the book project has received full co-operation and support from the wine industry, including an advance of funding from WineWorks, which enabled the project start-up.

A tight team of designer Max Parkes of Unit Design, Project Manager Susie Devonshire and Printers Print Link have kept this high-end project 100% NZ kiwi-made. There’s a limited first print-run of 3000 copies. Project Champion Tom Belford of BayBuzz and Devonshire are handling the marketing of this long-awaited book.

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Upon hearing that Mark Sweet was about to write a book on the history of Hawke’s Bay wine, I was excited! Upon reading the first edition all my expectations were exceeded. From historical to present day, this book has had an amazing amount of research and I am privileged to be a part of it. I love the photographs, both old and new – they certainly capture the quirky, passionate and dedicated winemakers/ideals of the Hawke’s Bay wine industry. This book is a treasure.


This well-researched book is a must for those wishing to know more about the Hawke’s Bay wine industry – its history, wine pioneers and current producers and their outstanding wines. The oldest wine region in New Zealand deserves wider understanding and recognition. This book provides that.


Wine: Stories from Hawke’s Bay is an engaging read which I heartily recommend for the depth and character it adds to the Hawke’s Bay wine experience. The chapters on the history of Hawke’s Bay wine are well-researched and full of new and interesting information that both acknowledge and honour the early pioneers of the region’s wine, while the chapters on recent times add great currency and personality to the Hawke’s Bay wine story.


Some fantastic historical photography coupled with a thoroughly enjoyable read. I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the history of New Zealand or wine.

How the stories unfold …

In the Beginning (1836-1919)

  • The source – saint’s vine
  • The missionaries
  • The entrepreneur – Tiffen
  • The patriarch – Chambers
  • The prophet – Bragato
  • The stayer – Vidal
  • The wowsers – prohibition

The Dark Ages (1920–1975)

  • Priestly perseverance – Mission
  • New kid on the block – Tom McDonald
  • Australians take a punt – McWilliam’s
  • Gone too soon – Denis Kasza
  • Family affairs – Vidals, Glenvale, Lombardi, Brookfields
  • The times are a changin’ – social change

The Renaissance (1975-1994)

  • Waking a sleeping giant – John Buck
  • An enduring partnership – Peter Cowley/Buck
  • The quiet changemaker – Ian Clark
  • Creative chemist – Malcolm Reeves
  • In the footsteps of his forebears – Alwyn Corban
  • Corporate welfare – the demise of McWilliam’s
  • One of a kind – Kim Salonius (Eskdale Winegrowers)
  • The best of traditions – Peter Robertson
  • More sacred than wine – the Mason family
  • Passionate lads, connected men – Hamish Jardine & Tim Turvey
  • Wine match made in heaven – Kate Radburnd & Chris Pask
  • In safe hands – George Fistonich saves Vidal’s/Glenvale
  • A little trust goes a long way – George Fistonich
  • David and Goliath – the fight to save Gimblett Gravels
  • Much to Celebrate

The Flourishing (1995 – today)

  • The Red Queen – Jenny Dobson
  • Honouring the past, Securing the future – Chris Scott Church Road
  • An Oldie but a goodie  – Paul Mooney, Peter Holley,  Mission Estate
  • A Name to please the gods  – Graeme Avery, Grant Edmonds & Sileni
  • No Trinity without sacrifice –  John Hancock, Warren Gibson and Trinity Hill
  • Off the beaten track – wine from Central Hawke’s Bay
  • Home on the range – Steve Smith, Terry Peabody, Craggy Range
  • You see him here, you see him there – Evert Nijzink, Alpha Domus, Dada
  • What’s in a name – Vidal Estates, Hugh Crichton, Rod McDonald
  • We know you like to drink – Roger Weiss, Gunther Thies,  Elephant Hill
  • More, much more, than wine – Andy Coltart, Kim Thorp, Black Barn
  • Bonded in wine – Easthope, Beach House
  • Everybody’s darling is nobody’s darling – marketing HB winePromising all this – and more

A splendid new book … an extraordinary trove of images that include archival shots, pics from personal collections, a selection of Marti Friedlander photographs taken in the 1960s and a superb set of portraits by Tim Whittaker shot especially for the publication. The text, well researched and written by Mark Sweet, offers great insight into this important region. New Zealand wine may have been born in Northland, but it was raised in Hawke’s Bay.


For many people, this will be a coffee table book. But it is more than this and deserves a thorough read by anyone interested in New Zealand wine. It does credit to Hawke’s Bay and its wine industry, past and present. The passion, perseverance and potential of the people are revealed. [Mark Sweet’s] intimate knowledge and personal connections with many of the people telling their stories comes through clearly in the way he has captured the essence of his subjects’ tales, and how the people fit into the overall picture.

Mark Sweet

Napier born Mark Sweet took up writing after selling Pacifica restaurant in 2007. Previously he established Two Fat Ladies restaurant in Glasgow (1988) after working as a valuer in Hong Kong. His first novel Zhu Mao was published in 2011; his next, set in Hawke's Bay in the 60's, is on the way.

Peter Cowley

Peter fell for wine in the early 70's when (while at school) he was a waiter in the Hungry Horse restaurant. He has a chemistry degree, a post graduate diploma in wine and has studied plant science. Since 1984 Peter has worked with the longstanding winery and vinyard team to oversee the creation of Te Mata Estate's range of quality wines.

Tim Whittaker

A camera in his hand at the age of 12, Tim is always looking through a lens.18 years a photojournalistand the last 15 years developing his own business expanding the digital horizons into drone and aerial panorama photography.

Wine: Stories from Hawke’s Bay is published by BayBuzz Ltd

Wine: Stories from Hawke’s Bay is an enlightening portrayal of the history and people of the region’s wine industry, told in an entertaining and interesting manner. The narrative traverses the entire history of grapegrowing and winemaking in Hawke’s Bay, bringing to light amusing recounts of events and the rationale behind many significant decisions. The photographs are exceptional, with truly amazing archive stills that delight the reader. From the early pioneers to the modern era, the toils and tribulations along with the rewards and successes are eloquently documented in this excellent and highly readable book.


I heartily recommend this book to anyone interested in a well-researched piece of important wine history, a glimpse into many of the characters who have helped build a thriving wine industry, a winemaker’s view of what makes the region and its wines special, or a beautifully illustrated adornment for a coffee table.
I love the illustrations! They’re a mix of blurry old images rescued from shoe boxes to sensitively shot portraits and some of the most spectacular aerial vineyard views I’ve seen.
This book reminded me what a great wine region [Hawke’s Bay] is and how it is populated by a great bunch of winemakers and viticulturists. I learned a lot from it. It’s a great read.



The colourful history of winemaking in Hawke’s Bay, and the equally interesting personalities behind it, have been bottled in book form to create a rich, literary vintage.


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Wine: Stories from Hawke’s Bay
is also available at most wine cellars in Hawke’s Bay.

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