Countdown to the 2023 Young Viticulturist of the Year national final

The countdown to the 2023 Young Viticulturist of the Year national final is on.  Five finalists from around the country will take part in the competition on Wednesday 30th August 2023 at Paritua Vineyards in Hawke’s Bay, and the overall winner will be announced at an awards dinner the following evening.

The national finalists are:  Tai Nelson from Soljans Estate, Auckland; Nick Putt from Craggy Range, Hawke’s Bay; Zac Howell from Indevin, Marlborough; Tristan van Schalkwyk from The Bone Line, North Canterbury, Waipara and Nina Downer from Felton Road, Central Otago.

The contestants will be tested on what a viticulturist needs to know to run a successful vineyard, with a few curve balls thrown in. The competition will also feature the popular BioStart Hortisports race at lunchtime and a Fruitfed Supplies BBQ.

The finalists have been working on their research reports over the last few weeks. This year the assignment was to consider options for establishing and managing a vineyard which in 2050 would still be running successfully with its quality wines being exported to the UK market.

Winning the title of New Zealand Young Viticulturist of the Year  is something many young vits aspire to, and has the potential to catapult the winner’s career.  Prize packages includes a Hyundai Kona for a year, an Ecotrellis travel grant, a Fruitfed Supplies educational trip, Electrocoup secateurs, a leadership week and cash.  This year’s winner will also go on to represent the wine industry in next year’s Young Horticulturist of the Year competition.

Also linked to the competition this year is a viti conference and field trip focusing on weather.  The morning will be spent at Linden Estate in Esk Valley, where they are working hard to recover from the devastating effects of Cyclone Gabrielle.  Andrew Lorrey from NIWA will open the conference and there will be presentations on riparian planting to mitigate flooding as well as how to use weather to your advantage through regenerative energy. The day will finish in Gimblett Gravels looking at recent vineyard trials along with a wine tasting to mark Hawke’s Bay’s recent accolade of becoming a Great Wine Capital of the World.

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