Thursday, 27 August 2015 07:06

The Best Of The Best

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The five finalists in the 2014 National Young Vit competition, From left; Mike Winter, Paul Robinson, Dan Manuge, Brenton O’Riley ), Jeffrey Farrell. The five finalists in the 2014 National Young Vit competition, From left; Mike Winter, Paul Robinson, Dan Manuge, Brenton O’Riley ), Jeffrey Farrell.

It is an often used phrase – great wine begins in the vineyard – and those behind the Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year competition strongly believe it.

That is why they are keen to celebrate the youth of today, who will play a major role in the great wine of the future.

For the past 10 years, New Zealand viticulturists under the age of 30 have been pitting themselves against their peers in an effort to take out the national title and represent the wine industry at the National Horticulturist of the year competition. 

Over the years our young vits have been impressive with five of them going on to become the Young Horticulturist of the Year. They were Marcus Wickham (Marlborough) in 2006, Emma Taylor (Hawke’s Bay) in 2007, Caine Thompson (Hawke’s Bay) in 2009, Stuart Dudley (Marlborough) in 2010 and Braden Crosby (Wairarapa) in 2012. 

Just who will be the representative of the wine industry in 2015 and will they be able to stake a claim on the horticultural title as well?

That has yet to be decided, at the Bayer National competition in Hawke’s Bay later in August.

At the time of printing, not all the regional competitors had been decided so we can’t preview those taking part in the national competition. We can tell you though, that they will be put through their paces, well and truly. Not only will they take part in practical viticultural events, they will also have to impress a panel of judges, will have to show their knowledge of pests and diseases, their financial skills, show their competence in an array of vineyard theoretical events, compete in a fun “horti-sports” sector and deliver a three minute speech to the audience attending the Romeo Bragato dinner.

The winner will not only proudly sport the title of Bayer National Young Viticulturist of the Year, they will also win $2000 in prize money, a $5000 travel grant to travel to any wine region in the world (provided by the New Zealand Society for Viticulture and Oenology), wine glasses, and a year-long lease of a fully serviced Hyundai Fe SUV.

Tonnellerie de Mercurey Young Winemaker

For the first time ever a Young Winemaker competition is being held in New Zealand. Again we can’t tell you who all the representatives are for this upcoming competition, as some of regions had yet to finalise their representatives at the time of printing. 

However three competitors representing Marlborough, Hawke’s Bay and Central Otago will be fighting it out, also at the Romeo Bragato conference.

National organizer Sophie Matthews says the competition has been a long time coming.

“We are really excited about this and everyone in the industry agrees that there is a need for something like this competition to recognize young professionals wanting to make a go of their careers.”

With a focus on marketing, theory and practical areas the competition is not about wine the contestants have made in previous vintages, Matthews says.

“Basically it will be a real mix, covering what a winemaker is expected to do in their everyday work life.”

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Competing in the New Zealand Young Viticulturist of the Year competition is all about escaping your comfort zone, says the first ever winner.

Bayer Young Vit of the Year

For the second year running an emerging leader from Central Otago has taken out the national title of Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year.

A woman of wine and earth

A love of working outdoors has led Dunedin-raised Annabel Bulk to a blossoming career in viticulture. 

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