Kate Franklin from Sacred Hill has become the Tonnellerie de Mercurey North Island Young Winemaker of the Year 2019.
The North Island competition was held at EIT in Hawke’s Bay on 1st August. This is the first of the three regional competitions and is open to all emerging young winemakers from around the North Island. There were eight contestants who came from Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa and Auckland.
Lochy Bainbridge from Ash Ridge came second and Ben McNab from Matahiwi in Wairarapa came third.
The NZ Young Winemaker of the Year Competition is open to anyone under 30 years of age working in wine production including cellarhand, laboratory technician, assistant winemaker, and winemaker. The competition tests the wide range of skills and knowledge required to be a top winemaker.
The challenges include fault finding, blending, laboratory trials, health & safety, marketing, and general wine knowledge. At lunchtime the contestants took part in the Vin Olympics which includes more lighthearted challenges such as beer and cheese tasting, spitting water into a bucket, separating eggs, and putting together gift boxes. A good crowd came to cheer them on and then enjoy a BBQ laid on by Farmlands.
The contestants’ final challenge was to deliver a speech to the wine industry crowd at the awards dinner at The Old Church. The winners were then announced at the end of the evening.
The competition is now in its fifth year. “It’s exciting to see how this competition is growing”, says Nicky Grandorge, national coordinator. “And to see the contestants grow in confidence and knowledge each year. It really is a great way for these emerging young winemakers to start making a name for themselves and progress their careers.”
Franklin not only won the title of Tonnellerie de Mercurey North Island Young Winemaker of the Year 2019 but also won $1000 cash, travel & accommodation to the National Final, and a Villa Maria magnum.
As a separate section prize Bainbridge was awarded a year’s worth of mentoring from CQ to help him further upskill and reach his goals.
Franklin will go on to represent Hawke’s Bay at the National Final competing against the winners from the Marlborough and Central Otago competitions taking place on 7th and 15th August respectively. The National Final will take place at NMIT on 17th September in Marlborough.
The winner of the National Final wins a $5000 travel grant, a $2000 Programmed Property Services Education Scholarship, a bespoke trophy – a miniature Mercurey barrel, a Riedel decanter and cash. They will also be an Associate Judge at the NZ Wine of the Year competition, receive a personal tasting experience with a Villa Maria senior winemaker and attend the NZ Wine Awards in November.