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Mercurey Central Otago Young Winemaker of the Year 2019

Mercurey Central Otago Young Winemaker of the Year 2019 announced


Congratulations to Ben Tombs from Peregrine for becoming the Tonnellerie de Mercurey Central Otago Young Winemaker of the Year 2019

The Central Otago competition was held at VinPro in Cromwell on 15th August and was the last of the three regional competitions. There were eight contestants who came from wineries across Central Otago.

Congratulations also to Jordan Moores from Felton Road for coming second and Margot Best from Mt Difficulty for coming third.

Although Ben Tombs took out first place, he has been accepted onto the prestigious Burgundy Exchange and will already be enjoying vintage work in Pommard when the national finals are being held in New Zealand. Jordan Moores will therefore be going through to represent Central Otago in the national final. They were both thrilled with the result.

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.

There was a great atmosphere throughout the day as the contestants really stretched themselves and were tested on a wide range of skills and knowledge required for being a successful winemaker. These included creating a balanced rosé blend and then marketing it to a team of judges, forklift skills, lab trials, fault finding and theory papers on winemaking.

At lunchtime the contestants took part in the Vin Olympics. This is a bit of light relief for the contestants and great entertainment for the audience. The contestants raced against eachother, rolling barrels, dragging hoses and throwing bungs into buckets. Farmlands then laid on a very welcome and tasty BBQ lunch for everyone.

The eight contestants in this competition were an even mix of men and women highlighting that winemaking is an exciting career for everyone. The other contestants in no particular order were: Hannah van Velthooven from Prophets Rock, Carolien Callewier from Akarua, Anika Willner from Coal Pit Wines, James Dobbs from Rippon and Mike Liao from Quartz Reef.

“It’s great to see this competition growing” said Nicky Grandorge from NZ Winegrowers and National Co-Ordinator for the competition. “ and it’s particularly exciting to see previous contestants now stepping up to help run the competition. They really want to give back to competition and this creates a strong sense of community as more young emerging winemakers are encouraged and supported to achieve their goals.”

The contestants final challenge was to deliver a speech at the awards dinner held at the Bannockburn Hotel. They all excelled themselves.

Ben not only won the title of Tonnellerie de Mercurey Central Otago Young Winemaker of the Year 2019 but also won $1000 and a Villa Maria magnum.

Jordan will be supported up to the National Final which 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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