Youngest ever winner of NZ Young Winemaker of the Year

Alena Kamper. Image courtesy New Zealand Wine Growers.

Alena Kamper from Sacred Hill in Hawke’s Bay has been named New Zealand’s Young Winemaker of the Year for 2023, despite being initially nervous to enter. At just 22, Kamper is the youngest person ever to win this title.

The national final took place at The Bone Line in North Canterbury on 31st October, where the three finalists delivered speeches at the Altogether Unique Wine Industry Celebration in Christchurch on 1 November, after which the overall winner was announced.

The other finalists were Callum Haynes from Matua in Marlborough and Eliana Leal from Amisfield in Central Otago.  Both Haynes and Leal won section prizes, highlighting how close the competition was.

Kamper won the best speech and wine judging sections, whilst Leal was awarded best presentation on AI in the wine industry and laboratory skills.  Haynes won best interview and essay, with his essay on how to make various rosé styles.

The judges were impressed not only with the competitor’s winemaking skills but also their passion and vision for the future of the New Zealand wine industry.

“It is inspiring and exciting to see so many passionate and talented young winemakers coming through,” said Nicky Grandorge, leadership and communities manager at New Zealand Winegrowers.  “Our future is certainly in good hands.”

The finalists were thrilled to share the stage with wine industry fellows and pioneers, as well as Oz Clarke OBE at the dinner.

Apart from being crowned the 2023 NZ Young Winemaker of the Year, Alena took home a prize package which included $1000 cash, a visit to the Tonnellerie de Mercurey (cooperage) in Burgundy, the opportunity to be an associate judge in the 2024 New World Wine Awards and review some of her favourite wines in DrinksBiz magazine.

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