Congratulations to Simon Gourley for taking out the title of Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year 2019. Gourley was representing Central Otago and is viticulturist at Domaine Thomson.
This is the second year running the trophy has been taken down to Central Otago and the third time in total since the competition started in 2006. Annabel Bulk won the competition in 2018 and Nick Paulin in 2011.
Congratulations also goes to Ben Richards from Indevin in Marlborough who came a very close second, and to George Bunnett from Craggy Range in Wairarapa for coming third.
The other three finalists were Jacob Dromgool from The Landing in Northland, Zoe Marychurch from Pegasus Bay in North Canterbury, and Nick Putt from Villa Maria in Hawke’s Bay. They too showed great leadership and viticultural skills and all six contestants have started making a name for themselves in the wine industry, with senior members recognising the passion and knowledge these ambitious young vits have.
“The calibre of the finalists was incredibly high this year,” says Nicky Grandorge, leadership & communities manager at New Zealand Winegrowers and national co-ordinator of the competition, “We threw a lot of different things at them, which they all tackled with great professionalism.”
The finalists had three weeks prior to the competition to complete their AGMARDT project which was to research and write a biosecurity plan for their vineyard. Dr Ed Massey, biosecurity manager at NZ Winegrowers, said the reports were of an extremely high standard containing valuable information which he plans to share with the industry.
All finalists made a huge impact with their speeches which they gave to the large wine industry audience at the national Bragato conference. Their topic was “The year is 2050 – what does the wine region look like in your region and what does your average day at work look like?” They all approached this from different angles, but seemed positive about how the NZ wine industry would look in the future.
The practical day took place on Monday 26th August at Te Awa in Hawke’s Bay and Simon Gourley was announced as the winner at the Bragato dinner in Napier on Thursday 29th August.
Simon not only takes out the title of Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year 2019 but takes home a prize package of a Hyundai Kona for a year, a $5000 Ecotrellis Travel Grant, Bahco golden secateurs, a leadership week, and cash. He will also go on to represent the wine industry in the Young Horticulturist of the Year Competition in November.