George Bunnett, left, and Hilary Forster pruning vines during young viticulturist of the year event. PHOTO/EMMA BROWN

EMMA BROWN
emma.brown@age.co.nz

Four future leaders of the wine industry competed head-to-head on Thursday at Te Kairanga Wines in the regional competition to find the Wairarapa young viticulturist of the year.

The competition is for those in the industry under 30 and not only gives up-and-coming viticulturists a chance to shine but brings the wine community together as it supports its future leaders.

George Bunnett, from Craggy Range, took out the competition with Hilary Forster from Matahiwi runner-up.

Organiser, and previous winner Rowan Hoskins was pleased with the form of the foursome.

“It’s great we have a few young people up and coming,” he said.

The group spent the day rotating through practical and theoretical challenges, before a fun hortisports lunchtime event filled with tasks ranging from pruning and netting to building stilts and creating bunches of grapes from modelling dough.

The contestants finished off the day with a speech at the evening dinner.

National co-ordinator, Nicky Grandorge, said the event had broad benefits.

“The competition helps individuals grow in confidence and feel part of the viticulture community.”

Bunnett will represent the region at the next stage of competition, with six regional winners heading to Hawke’s Bay, on August 26 to compete for the national viticulturist title.

The winner will then go on to represent the industry at the horticulturist of the year competition.

The viticulture industry has a great reputation at the event, coming away with overall title seven out of the 14 years it has been run.

Hoskins got a lot of out of his win.

“When I competed, not only did you get to meet people your own age in the industry, but also leaders in their fields.

“You also get to showcase your own skill and knowledge, but also learn what you need to improve on to be a good viticulturist.”