Young women take out top places at Marlborough Young Vit competition

Liv Bishop (left) and Anna Kelland (right). Image courtesy New Zealand Winegrowers

Anna Kelland from Constellation Brands has become the 2024 Marlborough Young Viticulturist of the Year after a competition held on 4 July at Whitehaven in Rapaura, with second place going to Liv Bishop from Delegat and third to Laura Hammond from Babich.

“Seeing three bright, young women take out the top places, highlights that viticulture is very much an exciting career option for both women and men,” said Nicky Grandorge, who heads up Young Viticulturist and Women in Wine as part of her role at New Zealand Winegrowers.

This year’s contestants also included Dan Du, Lizzie McMullen, Eric Bryan, Nav Sandhu, Andre Dippenaar, Harrison Chou and Harry Watson. Several judges remarked on the ‘inspiring’ talent this year, describing them as “a very bright, enthusiastic bunch of young vits”.

The young viticulturists circulated around various challenges and theory papers, which tested them on trellising, pruning, irrigation, machinery, pests and diseases, budgeting and sitting an interview.

The BioStart Hortisports took place in front of a large wine industry crowd who came to support the young vits, with contestants delivering final speeches that evening at the Awards Dinner and competing in a quick fire quiz before the final scores were tallied up.

The evening also included the launch of the Geoff Warmouth Cup, which will be awarded each year to the winner of the BioStart Hortisports. This was introduced in recognition of Warmouth’s passionate work in stretching the contestants in this head-to-head race. Warmouth has been rustling up a wide range of gruelling and fun challenges almost since the start of the competition and the race is one of the highlights of the competition. Warmouth presented the cup to this year’s winner Liv Bishop from Delegat.

Anna Kelland will now go through to the national final to compete against representatives from other regions around the country. The national final will be held at Escarpment Vineyards in Martinborough on Wednesday 28 August. The 2024 Young Viticulturist of the Year will be announced at the Altogether Unique 2024 industry celebration at Te Papa on 29 August.

There were prizes won across the board including a Fruitfed Supplies Field Trip and $1,000 for Kelland. Liv Bishop won $750 cash and an NZSVO Educational Trip. She also won the Ecotrellis trellising section prize as well as the BioStart Hortisports. Laura Hammond won $500 cash along with other section prizes. The Ormond Professional Reputation Award went to Dan Du from Whitehaven.

Kelland will compete for even greater prizes at the National Final. The 2024 Young Viticulturist of the Year will take home a prize package including a brand-new Ford Ranger for a year, a $6,000 Ecotrellis Travel Grant and a Leadership Week. A BioStart Hortisports winner will also be announced along with other cash prizes.

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