Competition 'about learning stuff'
Quizzed in a nerve-racking buzzer roundSONIA BEAL
All rivalry will be shunted aside when two Villa Maria Estate employees vie for the annual regional Young Viticulturist of the Year competition.
The estate's Taylor Pass Rd vineyard foreman Hannah Taylor, 27, and technical officer Libby Rainey, 25, aim to treat the contest as a learning experience.
Field skills and viticulture theory are tested from 10am tomorrow, and entrants are quizzed in a "buzzer round" on general and viticultural knowledge at an awards dinner in the evening.
Both women have viticulture qualifications, and are entering the competition for the second year in a row, Miss Taylor having entered in Auckland, and Miss Rainey in Marlborough.
Pruning, trellising, irrigation and machinery form the skills half of the competition, while budgeting, pest and weed management, speeches, and an interview panel of industry experts make up the theory-side of the test of vineyard skills and management.
Facing a volley of questions from the interview panel would be "nerve-racking", despite having accomplished it once before, Miss Rainey said. But both were looking forward to meeting others in the field and increasing their knowledge, rather than winning the regional title.
"I'm looking forward to another challenge, and learning more about the industry, and where I can improve," Miss Taylor said.
"It's more about learning stuff for yourself rather than competing against your peers," Miss Rainey said.
Last year's regional winner, James Bowskill, viticulturist at Framingham Wines in Marlborough, said entering the competition gave young viticulturists the opportunity to gauge their skill level and see which areas they could improve on. He encouraged this year's entrants to talk to as many industry experts as possible on areas they were less certain about.
The winner of the regional event will go on to compete for the title of Young Viticulturist of the Year at the national final during the 2012 Romeo Bragato conference in Marlborough next month.
The winner of that competition gains entry to the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition.
Other entrants in this year's Marlborough Young Viticulturist of the Year competition:
Matthew Duggan, Treasury Wines;
Ben McLennan, Oyster Bay, Delegat's;
Brad Newton, Vavasour, Foley Family Wines;
Nick Palmer and Anthony Walsh, Constellation;
Marcello Pinheiro, Starborough.
- The Marlborough Express