Growing great grapevines is a complex business, says New Zealand’s 2020 Corteva Young Viticulturist of the Year.
Marcus Wickham took the title at the inaugural competition in 2006, and says entering put him on a pathway to success. “As soon as you enter you start to study, but a lot of it you cannot learn by reading a book,” he says. “You have to get out and talk to people – people you wouldn’t normally go out and talk to.” That helped him more than the eventual result, he says, urging people to enter the competition for what they can learn and the contacts they can make. “And if you are lucky enough to get a placing or win it, all the better.”
Marcus and 13 other Young Viticulturist winners gathered in Martinborough in early October, to celebrate 15 years of the competition as the 2020 finals progressed. The celebration brought together alumni, sponsors and wine industry members from around the country. “After a very challenging year, it seemed extra special to be able to gather, reminisce and look forward,” says Nicky Grandorge, Leadership & Communities Manager at New Zealand Winegrowers and National Coordinator of the competition. “With these big thinking, ambitious young leaders now in senior roles, it seems the future is in great hands.”
She says the celebration conference was entitled ‘Investing in the future’, recognising sponsors who have supported the competition over the years, and reminding young people in the industry to invest in themselves.
The winners since 2006 are Marcus, Emma Taylor, Simon Bishell, Caine Thompson, Stuart Dudley, Nick Paulin, Braden Crosby, Matt Fox, Paul Robinson, Caleb Dennis, Cameron Price, Tim Adams, Annabel Bulk, Simon Gourley and the 2020 winner, Rhys Hall.