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Second Time a Winner For Marlborough Grower

Second Time a Winner For Marlborough Young Viticulturist

28-year-old Stuart Dudley left school with the intention of completing a degree in Genetics and Bio Chemistry. Ten years later he is New Zealand’s top young viticulturist and he has no regrets at changing direction career wise.

It was the second year in a row that the Marlborough based Delegats grower division viticulturist has taken part in the Markhams Young Viticulturist competition, that coincides with the annual wine industry Romeo Bragato conference.

Last year he was placed third and was determined to have another “crack” at the prestigious event, with first place securely in the front of his mind.

“It was a bit of a personal challenge for me. I’m a pretty competitive person and thought I could do better with the experience of last year behind me.” Winning the Marlborough title for the second time earlier this year, gave him the chance to once again compete on the national stage.

“I gained so much from it last year, and even more this year. The people who run the competition and do the interviewing, set the challenges – they are all people I hold in very high regard. Just being able to talk and confer with them has been an amazing experience.”

The four competitors were put through their paces on Saturday, having to show their all round skills as wine industry representatives. Theoretical and practical sessions were interspersed with a general knowledge quiz, the light hearted Horty Sports and a speech on an industry subject delivered in front of more than 300 guests at the Romeo Bragato Wine Awards dinner. Stuart said winning in front of his home town crowd, made it even more memorable.

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“I had a lot of friends and family there on the night which made it pretty special. I was absolutely stoked to take out the win here in Marlborough.” And given he had ambitions of a career in genetics or forensics, has he any regrets of moving into the wine industry?

“Certainly not after Saturday night. Mum and Dad may have thought I was a lost child when I moved into viticulture, but no – I think we all agree, I made the right choice.” Since the competition began in 2006, Marlborough has produced three national winners. The very first competition was won by Marcus Wickham, with Simon Bishell taking out the title a few years later.

The Markham’s Young Viticulturist receives a major cash grant, plus a travel grant from the New Zealand Society for Viticulture and Oenology and will go on to represent the wine industry at the upcoming Young Horticulturist of the Year.

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