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Mercurey Marlborough Young Winemaker of the Year 2019

Congratulations to Emily Gaspard-Clark from Spy Valley for becoming the Tonnellerie de Mercurey Marlborough Young Winemaker of the Year 2019.

The Marlborough competition was held at NMIT on 7st August and this is the second of the three regional competitions. There were eight contestants who came predominantly from Marlborough, but also one from Nelson.

Congratulations also to Peter Russell from Matua for coming second and Michael Hearn from VinLink for coming third.

The NZ Young Winemaker of the Year Competition is open to anyone under 30 years of age working in wine production including cellarhand, laboratory technician, assistant winemaker and winemaker. It’s a tough competition testing the wide range of skills and knowledge required to be a top winemaker.

The eight contestants in this competition were an even mix of men and women highlighting that winemaking is an exciting career for everyone. It was a great competition and they all enjoyed meeting fellow young winemakers and finding out what their own strengths and weaknesses are. The other contestants in no particular order were: Kelly Stuart from Cloudy Bay, Mary-Ann Kuhn from Waimea in Nelson, Kathleen Zelter from Constellation, Tom Hindmarsh from La Coterie and Alun Kirby from Marisco.

The challenges include fault finding, blending, laboratory trials, health & safety, marketing and general wine knowledge. In this competition the contestants had a selection of six different sauvignon blancs to create a blend which would suit a premium European restaurant. They then had to pitch this to a panel of judges and discuss how they had made the blend.

At lunchtime the contestants took part in the Vin Olympics. This was great fun, especially as the contestants’ colleagues also had to undertake some of the challenges, such as blind food and wine tasting, peeling grapes and showing off their spitting skills. There was a large audience with supporters from a wide range of local wineries. Farmlands then laid on a very welcome and tasty BBQ lunch for everyone.

The contestants final challenge was to deliver a speech to the large crowd at the awards dinner held at Pernod Ricard’s function centre.

Emily not only won the title of Tonnellerie de Mercurey Marlborough Young Winemaker of the Year 2019 but also won $1000, a Villa Maria magnum and has the fantastic opportunity of being an Associate Judge at the Marlborough Wine Show.

Emily will represent Marlborough at the National Final competing against the winners from the Hawke’s Bay and Central Otago. The National Final will take place at NMIT on 17th September in Marlborough with the Awards Dinner being held at Wither Hills the same evening.

The winner of the National Final wins an amazing trip to Burgundy to visit Tonnellerie de Mercurey, not only learning how barrels are made, but visiting the forests where the oak is grown. They also win, a $2000 Programmed Property Services Education Scholarship, a bespoke trophy which is miniature Mercurey barrel, a Riedel decanter and cash. They will also be an Associate Judge at the NZ Wine of the Year competition, receive a personal tasting experience with a Villa Maria senior winemaker and attend the NZ Wine Awards in November.


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