This year’s six regional Young Viticulturist of the Year competitions finished in July with the regional winners now preparing for the national final on 26 August.
Now in its 16th year, the Young Viticulturist continues to play an important role in the New Zealand wine industry, recognising and encouraging up and coming industry leaders. Fruitfed Supplies continues to support the competition which comprises various viticultural challenges such as trellising, tractor knowledge, pruning, nutrition, irrigation, pest and disease identification and budgets, as well as the popular hortisports race and an interview with judges.
The Northern, Hawke’s Bay and Wairarapa competitions took place in June.
Held at Goldie Estate on Waiheke Island, the Northern event attracted eight contestants from Northland, Matakana, West Auckland and Waiheke with Obsidian Wines’ Courtney Sang becoming the first woman to win this regional title. Two Man O’ War viticulturists, Aiden Erceg and George Laughlan, were second and third respectively.
Sam Bain, from Villa Maria, won the Hawke’s Bay title for the second year running. Sam headed an eight-strong field of talented competitors with Church Road’s Robbie Golding second and Douw Grobler, from Woodthorpe Terraces, third. Albie Feary, from Ata Rangi, won the Wairarapa title with Hannah Pause, from Foley Family Wines, second and Escarpment’s Katie Cameron third.
July’s hotly-contested Marlborough competition also had its first female winner with Jessica Wilson, from Whitehaven, taking the title from Villa Maria’s Jessica Marston and Tahryn Mason who were second and third respectively.
The North Canterbury event is open to contestants from North Canterbury, Waitaki and Nelson and attracted four first-time competitors with Tristan van Schalkwyk, from The Bone Line, named the winner.
Katrina Jackson, from Chard Farm, won the Central Otago event from Felton Road’s Nina Downer who was second and Annabel Wylie, from Grape Vision, who came third. Katrina became the fourth female to secure a slot in the finals, a fact which highlights the growing number of women pursuing viticulture as a career.