Bayer Central Otago Young Viticulturist 2016

Congratulations to Mike Winter from Amisfield who became the Bayer Central Otago Young Viticulturist of the Year 2016 on Friday 22 July.
 This is the third year Winter has taken out the title and he is very determined to take out the National title this year, especially as it is the last time he can compete.  He will be too old next year as cut off age for the competition is 30 years old or younger on 31 December, so Winter will be putting a lot of time and effort into study and preparation over the next few weeks. 

Congratulations also goes to Simon Gourley from the Central Otago Wine Company who came second and also to Annabelle Bulk from Felton Road who came third.  Gourley won the title in 2013 and is just back from working overseas.  Bulk has also previously placed in the top three, showing how high the calibre of contestants is in Central Otago.  The other contestants put of stiff competition and will be back with more experience and determination next year. 

There were eight contestants in total - four girls and four guys - so it’s exciting to see that viticulture is proving to be an attractive career for everyone, even in the tough Central Otago environment. 

The day involved a mix of theoretical and practical activities including tractor driving, irrigation, spray calibration, trellising, pruning and wine tasting.  The contestants also had an interview to discuss their personal goals and visions for the future of the NZ wine industry.   

In the evening, there was a Quick Fire Buzzer round, followed by contestants’ speeches tackling some controversial topics such as “Is Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc at risk of becoming the Coca Cola of NZ wine?” and “Should we sell Central Otago fruit to wineries outside of Central Otago?”  The contestants put up some very interesting and insightful arguments.

The BioStart Hortisports race attracted a good crowd as contestants went head to head completing various challenges against the stunning backdrop of the mountains.   Fruitfed Supplies kindly provided a very welcome sausage sizzle. 

The Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition is about growing the future of the New Zealand wine industry by helping to develop and nurture potential viticultural leaders.   The determination, skills, knowledge and mutual respect amongst the contestants was pretty evident on Friday, proving there is certainly a strong team of people to continue pushing the boundaries in Central Otago. 

The National Final is 23-25 August and held in conjunction with Bragato.  Winter will compete against the winners from Auckland, Hawke’s Bay, Marlborough and Wairarapa. 

The national winner not only gains the title of Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year, but an amazing prize package of $2000 cash, a $5000 AGMARDT travel scholarship, a Hyundai Santa Fe for an entire year, wine glasses and a leadership week where they meet some of the top leaders in the New Zealand wine industry.  They also go on to represent viticulture in the Young Horticulturist of the Year Competition. 

The Central Otago competition was held on 22 July at Otago Polytechnic, Cromwell. 

The final regional competition takes place on 28 July, Te Kairanga, Wairarapa 

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For more information and photos please contact:

Nicky Grandorge
National Co-ordinator, Young Viticulturist of the Year
021 780948

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