Winemaker named South Island farmer of the year

LAURA WALTERS
Last updated 08:42 29/11/2013
Peter Yealands.
Fairfax NZ
TOP FARMER: Marlborough winemaker Peter Yealands has been named South Island farmer of the year.

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Marlborough entrepreneur and winemaker Peter Yealands has been named South Island Farmer of the Year for his innovation, entrepreneurship and vision.

Chief judge Nicky Hyslop said Yealands impressed judges with his philosophy of ''think boldly and never say it can't be done''.

Hyslop said Yealands' innovation was backed up by sound business practices integrated into every aspect of the operation and a holistic vine-to-bottle approach.

Yealands won a $20,000 grant toward overseas travel for study, research, marketing or a combination of these.

Yealands, one of six finalists from the South Island, also won the Silver Fern Farms Plate to Pasture award for consumer awareness and the Lincoln University award for best use of technology and innovation, receiving $5000 for each.

Lake Tekapo farmers Andrew, Karen and Sam Simpson were runners up with their high country merino sheep station, Balmoral, which had diversified into forestry, deer, cropping, property development, conservation recreation, and value-added processing of their wool and meat.

Hyslop said the Simpsons' entry was also notable for its vision and entrepreneurship.

There was an extensive skill set within the family operation, including sound business and governance structures, and international networking, she said.

The BNZ award for best human resource management and the award for resource-use efficiency were both taken out by North Canterbury dairy farmers Alan and Sharron Davie-Martin, winning $5000 for each.

Lincoln University Foundation chairman Ben Todhunter said this year's finalists were of a ''very high calibre''.

''They each in their way represented some of the best examples of the high performing, innovative, leading edge farming that is coming out of the South Island.''

The high standard of entry represented a strong future for the competition and the country, he said.

The university sought to encourage, promote and reward farming excellence, Todhunter said.

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