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Third in viticulture final

George Bunnett, third place in Young Viticulturist of the Year 2020. PHOTO/KAREN COLTMAN

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Wairarapa man George Bunnett was one of six under 30-year-olds who made it to the Young Viticulturist of the Year final which climaxed at Ata Rangi Vineyard last week.

Bunnett gained acknowledgment by achieving third place.

The overall winner was Marlborough-based assistant vineyard manager Rhys Hall, who was crowned 2020 Corteva NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year at an event dinner on Wednesday. The finalists were the six regional winners.

During the final stages of the competition, Bunnett underwent various theory tests and was interviewed by a panel of three, including well-known Wairarapa viticulturist Nick Hoskins.

“We asked competitors all sorts of questions for them to exhibit their technical knowledge and management style,” Hoskins said.

Hoskins was one of the first people to plant vines in Martinborough back in the 1980s.

A highlight of the competition is a final 30-minute practical exercise called the ‘Hortisport Final’.

This involved carrying out many practical tests such as putting together vineyard equipment and hose parts, planting and tying vines, and setting up testing stations.

One of the tests was to have a quick sip of red wine and pick what sort of wine it was.

Bunnett was first to finish all the exercises.

He went ahead of the other finalists from the outset by being first to get hose pipe parts assembled.

He held the lead from there.

The competition had about 50 supporters and observers who went very quiet as the intensity of the time trial went on.

By the time Bunnett had finished, he was perspiring.

“I am sweating like a bag of cats at a greyhound meet, it’s very hot,” he said.

Bunnett, who works for Wairarapa Irrigation Services said he loved being in the final and that the whole competition was great fun.

He would not compete next year as he would be over 30.

This was the second time he had made it into the final and the second time he had achieved a placing.

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