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Exchange Scholars Share Interest In Wine

Exchange Scholars Share Interest In Wine

Visiting EIT’s Centre for Wine and Viticulture, Italian Alice Bottarel was finding her Bragato Student Exchange Scholarship “a beautiful opportunity” to learn about New Zealand’s celebrated wine industry.

The 19-year-old says this country delivers on her vision of expansive green spaces. “It’s very sheepy,” she laughs with delight. Her itinerary, taking in wineries and vineyards and providing first-time experiences of deer stalking, horse-riding, wakeboarding and bungy jumping, culminates in Alice’s attendance at the19th Romeo Bragato Conference for grapegrowers and winemakers, to be held in Blenheim over three days.

Alice and EIT student Dan Andrews are this year’s Italian and New Zealand winners of the annual scholarship commemorating Romeo Bragato, the legendary viticulturist who recognised this country’s potential for winegrowing well over a century ago.

From the small town of Colbertaldo in Italy’s north-east, Alice explored EIT’s facilities as part of her month-long tour of New Zealand’s leading wine regions.

Into the third year of his Bachelor of Viticulture and Bachelor of Wine Science Concurrent Degree, Dan will undertake a similar trip to Italy early next year. The 26-year-old’s visit will take in the famed Scuola Enoligica di Conegliano, Italy’s premier viticultural educator and Bragato’s former school.

After leaving Auckland Grammar, Dan gained a Bachelor of Commerce and then worked in marketing for several years. Losing his mother to cancer changed his perspective and he decided to forgo a desk-bound job to pursue a career in wine.

He was still weighing up tertiary educators when he met Steve Smith, director of wine and viticulture at Craggy Range, at a wine tasting and dinner organised by a group of young Auckland professionals. Steve encouraged him to enrol at EIT, pointing to its industry-focused study programmes, and offered him a part-time position working in the company’s cellar door, vineyards and winery, which Dan dovetails with his studies.

Having met on campus, Dan and Alice will be reacquainted in Italy when he visits the oenological school where she is a student.

Growing up among vines and with a family cellar, Alice rates prosecco, the sparkling white long associated with her region, as her favourite wine.

“I have found New Zealand makes many aromatic wines,” she says, “which are fruity and quite high in acid.”

Dan is a red wine lover whose favourite styles are Syrah and the Bordeaux varieties.

“That’s another reason I came to Hawke’s Bay,” he says, in a salute to the region’s reputation for these wines.

After finishing school, Alice wants to study a sommelier course to learn more about wine tasting. Then she would like to work, earning money to travel to countries with wine regions. Once he has graduated, Dan plans to work vintages in the northern and southern hemispheres as a means to exploring the world’s wine regions.

“I’ve got itchy feet,” he says, “and given that I’ve not travelled overseas and will have then had seven years of degree study, it’s something I would really like to do for a while.”


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