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Celebrating 15 Years Of NZ Young Viticulturist Of The Year Competition

Members of the New Zealand wine industry were delighted to be able to come together in Martinborough early October and celebrate fifteen years of the Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition. The celebration consisted of a conference entitled “Investing in the Future” followed by a dinner at the Town Hall. It was a great chance for the viticultural community to discuss the opportunities and challenges which lie ahead for the industry as well as look back over the last fifteen years.

Since 2006, the NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year initiative has helped support and encourage ambitious young people to become confident, strong leaders in the NZ wine industry. Investing in the future has paid off and there are many inspirational success stories of previous contestants and winners becoming some of the great innovators, pioneers and decision makers of the industry today.

It was an incredibly inspiring day as the Young Vit community tackled hot topics such as: future vineyards, future consumers, organic, biodynamic and conventional farming, sustainability, overseas investment, the limitations and opportunities that come with experience as well as investing in ourselves for a sustainable future.

The previous winners since 2006 are: Marcus Wickham, Emma Taylor, Simon Bishell, Caine Thompson, Stuart Dudley, Nick Paulin, Braden Crosby, Matt Fox, Paul Robinson, Caleb Dennis, Cameron Price, Tim Adams, Annabel Bulk, Simon Gourley and Rhys Hall.

Many have continued to give back to the competition by helping on the regional and national committees. Nigel Sowman and Mike Saunders also on the national committee presented at the conference.

Mike Petersen, Farmer and Former NZ Special Agricultural Trade Envoy, and John van der Linden, Futurist and Viticulturist were the guest speakers, emphasising the importance of constantly looking at systems and practices with fresh eyes and adapting ahead of the game.

The 2020 national final was run in conjunction with the 15 Year Celebrations and Rhys Hall was announced as the fifteenth winner that evening.

The celebration brought together alumni, sponsors and wine industry members from around the country. “After a very challenging year, it seemed extra special to be able to gather, reminisce and look forward.” says Nicky Grandorge, Leadership & Communities Manager at NZ Winegrowers and National Co-ordinator of the competition. “With these big thinking, ambitious young leaders now in senior roles, it seems the future is in great hands.”

Andrew McNeil from Fruitfed Supplies received special acknowledgement at the dinner for his continued commitment and passion for the competition over the fifteen years receiving a book of personal messages and some engraved golden secateurs.

The celebrations were also very much a thank you to the following sponsors, whose continued support and contribution has helped both the competition and the Young Vits grow: Corteva Agriscience, Bayer, Markhams, AGMARDT, Bahco, Biostart, Ecotrellis, Hyundai, Constellation, Empak, Fendt, Fruitfed Supplies, Indevin, Klima, NZ Winegrowers, NZSVO, Ormond Nurseries, Roots, Shoots& Fruits, Villa Maria, Waterforce and Winejobsonline.

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