George Bunnett, from Irrigation Services, won the Corteva Wairarapa Young Viticulturist of the Year for the second year running. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
gianina.schwanecke@age.co.nz

For the second year in a row, George Bunnett has been named the Corteva Wairarapa Young Viticulturist of the Year.

Bunnett, from Irrigation Services Wairarapa, took part in the competition at Craggy Range Te Muna Road, just outside of Martinborough, on Thursday.

For the past 10 or so years, he’s worked in vineyards across the country and overseas.

“It’s a passion for being outdoors – it’s a great luxury.

“I also like the lengthy process it takes to make a great wine. It’s a year or two of a lot of hard work.”

The 29-year-old said the competition was an opportunity to learn what you’re good at and what you can improve on.

He said it was a privilege to take out the title again especially as he was up against seven other Wairarapa viticulturists.

“It was really cool to see a new wave of contestants coming through. The Wairarapa wine industry is in great hands.”

The young viticulturists were tested on all aspects of vineyard management, including trellising, vineyard and nursery knowledge, machinery, pests and diseases, irrigation, and budgeting.

It also included an interview and quiz, followed by the BioStart Hortisports which was also won by Bunnett.

Escarpment’s Kate Cameron was runner-up and Laura-Beth Feary from Urlar came third.

Feary also won the new Professional Reputation award while the Ecotrellis trellising prize went to McKenzie Smith from Craggy Range.

The other contestants were Hannah Pause from Te Kairanga, Hilary Forster from Matahiwi, Rob Jasionowicz from Escarpment, and Sonia Saba from Luna Estate.

Leadership and communities manager at New Zealand Winegrowers Nicky Grandorge said it was great to see how the regional competition had grown.

“It’s very exciting to see a new wave of talented, passionate Young Vits coming through in Wairarapa.”

Bunnett said he would have the “home advantage” when going on to represent the region in the national final in Martinborough on October 7.

“It will be cool to have it here to showcase wine in Wairarapa and Martinborough.”

This will havee him compete against six other young viticulturists from Auckland, Marlborough, Hawke’s Bay, Central Otago and North Canterbury at a practical day at Ata Rangi vineyard followed by a conference and celebration dinner the next day.

It will also mark 15 years of the competition.