Last Thursday, 15 July, at an awards dinner at Cloudy Bay Shed, Northburn, Katrina Jackson, of Chard Farm, became the Corteva Central Otago Young Viticulturist of the Year 2021.

Nina Downer of Felton Road came second, and Annabel Wylie of Grape Vision was third.

The Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition is now in its sixteenth year.

It is based on six regional competitions, culminating in a national final.

The contestants must undergo a mix of practical and theoretical questions which include pruning, netting, machinery, pests and diseases, budgeting, nutrition, wine knowledge, trellising and an interview. 

They go head-to-head in the BioStart Hortisports race, a quick-fire buzzer round, and then give a speech at the awards dinner. 

The speech topic this year was how their vineyard can reach the New Zealand wine industry’s overall target of becoming carbon zero by 2050.

The competition was held at Otago Polytechnic Central Campus. Participation in the contest is a tough but rewarding experience, with some amazing prizes to be won.

These include a Hyundai Kona for a year, an Ecotrellis travel grant, an educational visit to Australia with Corteva, Bahco golden secateurs and other cash prizes.

Katrina says, “It was such a fun day, not only learning new skills but meeting new young people in the industry and suppliers. Viticulture is such an exciting industry, always learning new skills and having varied days at work.  I’m super excited to represent Central Otago at the nationals and hoping to do everyone proud.”

Kerry Stainton-Herbert, of Stewart Town Vineyard, says, “It is fantastic to see such a wonderful group of our future leaders in action.  All spoke well and with passion.”

Katrina will now proceed to the national final in Marlborough next month.

This year, seven of the eight contestants in our area were women, and, in a first for the competition, four of the final six will be woman.

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