Simon Gourley from Domaine Thomson is the Central Otago Young Viticulturist of the Year

Simon Gourley became the Bayer Central Otago Young Viticulturist of the Year 2019 on 18 July following the competition held at Otago Polytechnic Central Campus in Bannockburn.

Ben Holt from Akarua came second and Katrina Jackson from Chard Farm came third.

There were eight contestants competing in total. The other five contestants were Annabel Angland from Peregrine, Jordan Moores from Felton Road, Jenna MacKenzie from Viticultura, Tyler Oliver from Vinewise, and Hannah van Velthoven from Prophets Rock.

“The Central Otago competition always attracts very strong contestants and it is exciting to see the enthusiasm, passion and knowledge that the young vits in this region have for viticulture”, says Nicky Grandorge, national co-ordinator. “They all did themselves proud and it is great to know we have strong, skilled leaders coming through for the future”.

The contestants rotated around challenges such as trellising, pruning, solving tractor issues and answering theory papers on pests and diseases, irrigation and budgeting. There was a blind wine tasting to test their knowledge on New Zealand and international wines, and they also had an interview. At lunchtime a crowd gathered to watch the colourful BioStart Hortisports and quick fire buzzer round.

Gourley will go on to represent Central Otago in the national final which is held in conjunction with Bragato at the end of August, this year being held in Hawke’s Bay. There will be a total of six finalists, with the others coming from Northland, Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa, Marlborough, and North Canterbury.

The national winner will become the Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year 2019 and will also win a prize package of a Hyundai Kona for a year, an Ecotrellis Travel Grant, Bahco golden secateurs, a leadership week, and cash. They will also go on to represent the wine industry in the Young Horticulturist of the Year Competition in November. There is also an AGMARDT prize for the best national finalist’s project which they undertake in the build up to the national final.