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2022 Young Viticulturist of the year regional winners

2022 regional viticulturist winners

2022 Young Viticulturist of the year regional winners

The regional competitions of the 2022 Corteva Young Viticulturist of the Year are in progress around the country.

In each region, contestants are tested on a range of viticultural skills including pruning, budgeting, and biosecurity. They tackle a fun and challenging hortisports section and enjoy a BBQ lunch provided by the local Fruitfed Supplies team, before attending an awards dinner where each contestant gives a speech.

First up was the Auckland/Northern event on 9 June held at Goldie Estate on Waiheke Island with five contestants from West Auckland, Waiheke and Matakana. Tai Nelson, age 23 and Vineyard Manager at Soljan’s Estate, won the regional title. Dominic Bolton, from Kumeu River Estate, came second and Nicole Reynolds, from Waiheke’s Te Motu Estate, placed third.

Event organiser Nicky Grandorge, New Zealand Winegrowers’ Leadership & Communities Manager, also paid credit to the other contestants, Leon Henson and Josh Kingston, saying everyone tackled the day’s challenges with great positivity and enjoyed the opportunity to learn and connect with others. The contestants’ speeches covered topics such as how climate change, tourism and soaring costs were affecting the Northern wine growing regions.

The Hawke’s Bay event took place at Paritua vineyards in the Bridge Pa Triangle on 16 June. Laura Marston, from Craggy Range, took out the regional title, ahead of Douw Grobler, from Trinity Hill, in second place and Robbie Golding, from Crab Farm, who came third.

The other contestants were Daniel Brewster from AONZ, Jamie Scoon from Te Mata, Joseph Stenberg from Woodthorpe Terraces, and Jessica Sunderland-Wells and Sarah St George, both from Villa Maria. The judges commented on the professional and positive attitude of all contestants and that there are many passionate and talented young people in the Hawke’s Bay wine industry.

The evening’s dinner at Mission Estate included a celebration with the 2021 national finalists after their formal dinner was cancelled earlier in the year due to Covid restrictions.

The Wairarapa event was held at the end of June at Luna Estate in Martinborough with Escarpment Wines Viticulturist Katie Cameron taking the regional title ahead of Hannah Pause of Foley Family Wines. The other contestants, Rob Jasionowicz and Hilary Forster, both from Escarpment, also excelled during the competition winning some of the challenging sections.

Nicky says everyone enjoyed seeing how the four young viticulturists cheered each other on throughout the day while being strongly competitive. “They were smiling from start to finish, and this positive, professional attitude is one of the of the highlights of the Young Vit programme.”

Tai, Laura and Katie represent their regions at this year’s National Final being held in Marlborough on 30 August. Laura is the first woman to represent Hawke’s Bay in the national final since Emma Taylor in 2007, who took out the national title that year. They will be joined by other contestants from Marlborough and Central Otago whose regional finals are being held over the coming weeks.

Fruitfed Supplies has been a sponsor of this important industry event since it started 17 years ago.

Duncan Fletcher, Fruitfed Supplies National Manager, says the value of the competition to the viticultural and wine sector continues to grow.

“The Young Viticulturist helps us all stay focused on the fact that wine quality starts in the vineyard,” Duncan says. “As we recognise and support the young people in this sector, we help strengthen the New Zealand wine industry as a whole.

“It’s wonderful to follow previous Young Viticulturist competition entrants as their careers develop and progress, and I’d like to congratulate every entrant who has prepared and competed in this year’s competition. On behalf of the Fruitfed Supplies team, all the best for your future endeavours in viticulture.”