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Central Otago viticulture competition winner

1 July 2012

Photo supplied

Fourth time lucky for Central Otago viticulture competition winner

Central Otago viticulturist David Salmon took the honours at the regional Markhams Young Viticulturist of the Year competition on Friday (29 June).
This was Mr Salmon’s fourth attempt at the title, finishing runner-up last year, and was “over the moon” to win the competition.

“It has been an ambition of mine for a long time,” says Mr Salmon (30). “This was my last attempt as I’ll be too old for the competition next year. I’ve fought hard for this and it’s been my dream to represent Central Otago at the nationals,” he says.

Mr Salmon, who works at Kawarau Estate, Cromwell, took out the award against seven other local wine industry hopefuls, competing in a range of activities including wine taste-testing, pruning, hanging gates, fixing irrigation, testing their machinery handling abilities and finally delivering a speech on a given topic.

Michelle Dacombe from Felton Road Wines came second, improving on her third placing last year, and third place went to Jake Tipler from Peregrine Wines. This was Mr Tipler’s first entry into the competition.

Mr Salmon acknowledged the high calibre of the other contestants, but said having competed before, he knew what to expect. “I really enjoyed the Horti-Sports section of the day as it was the only section where all eight competitors went head to head with each other. The challenges in this section included fixing irrigation, blind wine tasting and doing some trellising,” he said.

Judging the speech competition was a panel of industry members, including Central Otago Winegrowers’ Association executive committee member Martin Anderson.

Mr Anderson was impressed by the calibre of the presentations. “It was really hard to judge the speeches – the quality improves each year,” he said.

Mr Salmon’s speech on the benefits of formal qualifications compared with hands-on experience was enough to give him the honours. For his win, he walked away with a trophy, cash prizes, a travel fund and Spiegelau glassware.
Mr Salmon will now represent the region at the national Markhams Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition to be held in Blenheim on 22 August as part of the 2012 Romeo Bragato conference.

Dunedin’s Markhams Clarke Craw is the major sponsor of the event and representative Paula McKay said the company was proud and privileged to be involved. She was impressed by the high calibre of the contestants and the wide breadth of knowledge they needed for the competition.

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