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Hard work rewards young winemaker

The Bayer Wairarapa Young Viticulturist of the Year winner Ben McNab-Jones from Urlar. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

By Chelsea Boyle

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Top young viticulturist Ben McNab-Jones is in non doubt when it comes to naming his favourite wine style – pinot noir.

“It’s so much fun to make,” Mr McNab-Jones said.

“So much goes into that, there is a lot of work in growing the grapes, getting the soils right, the canopys right and the vines.

“In the wineries there is a lot of slow, careful decision making that goes into it.”

After “a lot of study” and “bookwork” Mr McNab-Jones nabbed the Bayer Wairarapa Young Viticulturist of the Year 2017 on Thursday.

“I was very surprised,” he said.

“I put in the work but it was anyone’s game.”

The 25-year-old credited the support from his partner, family and colleagues for helping him take the top spot.

“I have a lot of support behind me from local viticulturists and winemakers, marketers and so forth,” he said.

“The industry is so willing to share their information, their knowledge.

“The competition itself was so well organised, the people who have organised it have put a hell of a lot of work into it.”

With the national competition looming in August he was anticipating “a lot more study”.

His interest in wines stretches back to his time at university when he was working a part-time job in a bottle store in Moore Wilsons, Wellington.

Not long after he made a vintage at Urlar, in Gladstone, where he officially “caught the bug” for making wines.

He has been making vintages in America and Wairarapa ever since, sold on it being his dream job.

“It’s so nice to be in the wineries in the cold months, during harvest, making the wine,” he said.

“But then to be amongst the vines in summer is amazing.”

Ten years from now, Mr McNab-Jones said he would love to be the head winemaker and general manager of a small wine company.

Bayer Wairarapa Young Viticulturist of the Year has been running in the region for four years.

This year Scott Lanceley, self-employed, placed second and Johnny Wills from Te Kairanga placed third.

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