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Young Viticulturist wins Young Horticulturist of the Year

A huge congratulations to Simon Gourley from Domaine Thomson, Central Otago for becoming the Young Horticulturist of the Year 2019. Having won the Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year competition at the end of August, he went on to represent the viticultural sector in this tough and prestigious competition and was announced the winner last week.

The competition was held over the 13th and 14th November, where Simon competed against five other finalists from other horticultural sectors - Landscaping NZ, NZ Flower Growers, NZ Horticulture, NZ Plant Producers and NZ Amenity Horticulture.

The contestants were tested in depth on a wide range of skills and knowledge related to horticulture. This included their own specific sectors as well as biosecurity, machinery, HR, agchem, leadership skills, presentation skills, budgeting and community engagement.

Several weeks were also spent working on the AGMARDT Market Innovation Project. Contestants had to submit a business plan for a new product they would like to develop and launch, then were quizzed by a panel of judges on its viability.

They also had to give a speech at the Awards dinner in front of a large audience of key horticultural leaders.

“Without a doubt, it is a very tough competition,” says Nicky Grandorge, Leadership & Communities Manager for NZ Winegrowers and National Co-ordinator for Young Viticulturist of the Year. “Simon has worked extremely hard and is a very talented young viticulturist. The wine industry is incredibly proud of him winning this prestigious competition.”

Simon is the eighth Young Vit to win the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition in the fifteen years it has been running. In fact, it has now been won two consecutive years by Young Vits, both coming from Central Otago. Annabel Bulk from Felton Road was last year’s winner. “It is exciting to know the New Zealand wine industry has such strong leaders emerging for the future. The Young Viticulturist of the Year competition plays an important role in this leadership development and then the support, mentorship and experience they receive from taking part in the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition builds on this even further” says Ms Grandorge. “It’s fantastic for the individual and fantastic for horticulture as a whole”.

Congratulations again to Simon Gourley.

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