Bayer Wairarapa Young Viticulturist of the Year 2016 announcedCongratulations to Mark Langlands from Te Kairanga who became the Bayer Wairarapa Young Viticulturist of the Year 2016 on Thursday 28 July.
Langlands also won the competition last year showing he is a consistently strong, bright young viticulturist. However, he was unable to compete in the National Final in 2015 as he was overseas working a vintage in California. He is therefore thrilled that he can go forward and represent the Wairarapa this year and is determined to bring the trophy back to the region.
Competition was very tough at Te Kairanga, where the competition was held, so much so, that there was the unusual situation of an equal second placing. Congratulations goes to Scott Lanceley from Craggy Range and Ben McNab-Jones from Urlar who achieved this great result. Lanceley also came second last year and represented Wairarapa at the National Finals showing he has great viticultural knowledge and skills. This is the first year McNab-Jones has entered the competition so is definitely someone to watch for the future.
Braden Crosby is the only person from the Wairarapa to have previously won the National Final as well as the subsequent Young Horticulturist of the Year. He won in 2012 and now organises this regional final along with Rowan Hoskins from Vine Managers.
The format for this competition was slightly different from previous years as “we like to keep contestants on their toes” says Crosby. This year they all sat a 2 hour theoretical paper together in the morning, based around taking over a vineyard which was suffering from certain diseases and needed replanting in various places. The contestants therefore had to make a plan on how they would do this and advise their Hong Kong client on what needed pulling out and recommend a new vineyard layout and management programme. This involved budgeting, pest and disease knowledge as well as nutrition, irrigation and training techniques. During the afternoon the contestants then needed to turn their plan into reality and physically set up trellising, plant vines according to the density they had recommended and ensure the irrigation system was lined up appropriately. They also had an interview and a module on spraying and irrigation.
There was a large crowd cheering the contestants on for the BioStart Hortisports where they went head to head in the race. They undertook various activities which included reversing a quad bike, pruning, mixing and plucking a duck!
The evening activities included wine options, a quick fire buzzer round and speeches. These again took on a slightly different format as the overall title was “This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Judgement of Paris where Californian wine took French wine head on and won. Would New Zealand defeat France in a similar competition?” Three contestants then had to argue on behalf of France and the other three on behalf of New Zealand focussing on the three issues of terroir, tradition and size. There were some very strong arguments from all the contestants.
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.
This was the last regional competition and the National Final is on 23-25 August, held in conjunction with Bragato. Langlands will compete against the winners from Auckland, Hawke’s Bay, Marlborough and Central Otago.
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.
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For more information and photos please contact:
National Co-ordinator, Young Viticulturist of the Year