Wairarapa viticulturist takes home region’s Young Viti of 2020 award for the second year in a row

George Bunnett from Irrigation Services has been named the Wairarapa Young Viticulturist of the Year for the second year in a row.

Due to COVID-19 Alert Level 2 restrictions still being in place in Wairarapa, the competition was held behind closed gates, thereby limiting numbers to well below the government guidelines of one hundred people.

Only contestants, judges and two supporters per contestant were in attendance. Health and safety was a priority and the regional team, headed up by Rowan Hoskins from Escarpment, worked hard to ensure everything was in order for the competition to run in a safe environment.

Being outside and spread out across the vineyard as contestants rotated from station to station also ensured social distancing was well observed along with high levels of sanitisation.

“It was still a great day despite being smaller” said Hoskins, “and everyone still really enjoyed themselves.”

Congratulations also goes to Kate Cameron from Escarpment who came second and Laura-Beth Feary from Urlar who came third.

For the very first time the Wairarapa competition had a full house of eight contestants and they all impressed the judges with their knowledge and enthusiasm.

The other five contestants were Hannah Pause from Te Kairanga, Hilary Forster from Matahiwi, McKenzie Smith from Craggy Range, Rob Jasionowicz from Escarpment and Sonia Saba from Luna Estate.

“It’s fantastic to see how well this regional competition has grown and very exciting to see a new wave of talented, passionate Young Vits coming through in Wairarapa,” said Nicky Grandorge, leadership and communities manager at New Zealand Winegrowers.

The Young Vits were tested on all aspects of vineyard management, including trellising, vineyard and nursery knowledge, machinery, pests and diseases, irrigation and budgeting.

George Bunnett will go on to represent Wairarapa in the National Final in October being held in Martinborough this year, so will be on his home turf.

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