Tai Nelson crowned NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year 2023

Tai Nelson from Soljans Estate. Image courtesy New Zealand Winegrowers.

Tai Nelson from Soljans Estate in Kumeu, Auckland has taken out the title of New Zealand Young Viticulturist of the Year 2023. At 24 years old, Nelson is one of the youngest contestants ever to win the competition. He will now go on to represent the wine industry in the 2024 Young Horticulturist of the Year competition.

The national final was held at Paritua Vineyards in Hawke’s Bay, with the winners announced at an awards dinner in Hastings.

“It’s wonderful to see this support for the Young Vits,” said Nicky Grandorge, leadership and communities manager at New Zealand Winegrowers.

“It’s a very positive environment and a very special community to be a part of. The future of our industry looks bright.”

Nick Putt from Craggy Range in Hawke’s Bay came a very close second and Nina Downer from Felton Road placed third. Zac Howell from Indevin in Marlborough also impressed the judges with his skills and knowledge throughout the competition.

The Young Viticulturist of the Year tested contestants on trellising, irrigation, machinery, pest and disease management, wine knowledge and had an interview. Prior to the competition, the contestants each submitted a report on their recommendations for establishing and managing a sustainable vineyard which would thrive into the future.

Nelson took home a Hyundai Kona for a year, a $6000 Ecotrellis Travel Grant, Electrocoup secateurs, a leadership week and cash.

He also won the wine knowledge and trellising sections, as well as the BioStart Hortisports, and he will now go on to be an associate judge in November.

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