Sunday, 15 October 2023 15:25

North Canterbury Young Viticulturist

Written by  Sophie Preece
Tristan van Schalkwyk Tristan van Schalkwyk

Tristan van Schalkwyk was already studying viticulture when Ford vs Ferrari hit cinemas in 2019. But watching it convinced him he’d chosen the right field, having considered a wide array of careers and courses on leaving school.

“There’s a particular scene where Ford is arguing they are better than Ferrari because they produce more cars in a day than Ferrari does in a year,” says The Bone Line Vineyard Manager and North Canterbury Young Viticulturist of the Year. “The reply was that Ferrari will be remembered as the greatest car manufacturer ever, because they focussed on creating something beautiful, something the public wants to have a piece of. And that’s what inspires and excites me about wine and being a viticulturist. We have the opportunity to create a product so beautiful that people just need to have a piece of it.”

Tristan studied at Lincoln University, and contacted a bunch of North Canterbury wine companies for summer work. He subsequently joined The Bone Line in 2019 and has been there since, learning well in a role where no two hours are the same. “You might be on the tractor in the morning, then on the phone finding out about different diseases or fertilisers, then in front of an Excel spreadsheet, then fixing wires or irrigation leaks, then flick the tractor lights on and finish the spraying,” he says. “One of my favourite parts about viticulture is watching some incredible sunsets and sunrises from the tractor cab.”

The boutique company and small wine region are the perfect fit for him. “We are all on the same mission. To be the best… I don’t want to be part of an organisation that is worried about being the biggest vineyard, or getting the highest tonnage, or more focussed on talking up a story than focusing on what is being produced,” says Tristan. “I want to work for an organisation and be part of a wine community that is focussed on producing the best quality wine that this country has seen. And where I am working at the moment, and the North Canterbury region represent those ambitions for me.”

Tristan was unwell the day of the National Final for the Young Viticulturist of the Year and was unable to compete. But he is already thinking about the 2024 competition.

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