Friday, July 1, 2022

Young viticulturists ready for final

It might be five months later than originally scheduled, but the 2021 Corteva Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition is being held next week.

The 2021 Corteva Young Viticulturist of the Year finalists are, clockwise from top left, Courtney Sang, Sam Bain, Albie Feary, Katrina Jackson, Tristan van Schalkwyk and Jess Wilson. Photo: Supplied

It might be five months later than originally scheduled, but the 2021 Corteva Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition is being held next week.

Originally set down for last August, the event was postponed because of covid restrictions.

It will now be held on January 27 at Indevin’s Bankhouse Vineyard in Marlborough, with the national winner announced at an awards dinner the same night.

The competition’s national coordinator Nicky Grandorge is relieved that the event can finally go ahead.

“The flexibility of everyone involved has been incredible and shows the strength, resilience and passion of the Young Vit community,” Grandorge said.

As part of the competition, the finalists had earlier submitted a written research report, which they would usually have also presented in person on the day of the final.

However, this year they gave their presentations online, relieving some of the pressure of the big day.

The subject was “Assess various pruning options during a labour shortage”, which addresses one of the real challenges currently facing the wine industry.

Grandorge says as part of the final contestants will undergo a mix of practical and theoretical questions covering viticulture, leadership and management.

They will also go head-to-head in the BioStart Hortisports race, which is similar to an obstacle course that will test contestants’ viticulture skills under pressure.

For the first time in the history of the competition, which has been running since 2006 and open to people under 30 years old, there will be more women than men in the final, with four out of the six regional competitions won by young women.

The finalists are Courtney Sang, Obsidian, Auckland; Albie Feary, Ata Rangi, Wairarapa; Jess Wilson, Whitehaven Wines, Marlborough; Katrina Jackson, Chard Farm, Central Otago; Sam Bain, Villa Maria, Hawke’s Bay; and Tristan van Schalkwyk, The Bone Line, North Canterbury.

Prizes include the use of a Hyundai Kona for a year, an Eco Trellis travel grant, an educational visit to Australia with Corteva, Bahco golden secateurs and cash prizes.

An auction will be held during the awards dinner to raise money for the Mental Health Foundation. Items available to bid on include signed wicket-keeping and batting gloves donated by Black Cap Tim Seifert.

It’s hoped that the 2022 young viticulturist competition will return to its usual timetable, with regional finals in June/July before the national final in August.

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