Harvest brings the world to region

03:15, Apr 02 2014

The grape harvest in Marlborough brings together a melting pot of nationalities and cultures, and the 2014 first year class of viticulture students at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology is no different.

Among them is are students from Hawaii, India, England and China, some of whom have decided on a total shift in their careers to go into the wine industry. They got a feel for harvesting on Wednesday last week, hand picking a tonne of pinot noir grapes at a Sacred Hill Winery block near Renwick.

NMIT viticulture lecturer David Hayward says they are very lucky to have so many grapes donated to them, especially being of such high quality. "These grapes are sensational quality, so it will be great for the students to have a go with them on a semi-commercial scale," he says.

The students too were very impressed with the dark red fruit and looking forward to working with it.

Chinese student Adora Wu says that she got interested wine after travelling around New Zealand and spending time in Marlborough. "Chinese people don't know anything about wine, we don't even know the difference between red and white wine. I am finding the course very interesting already," she says.

For Hawaiian Dan Deleon getting into the industry is a big shift from his career in the United States Airforce, but his background in beer brewing has given him a solid foundation. "With beer people tend to try and make it taste the same all the time but with wine I find it much more dynamic," he says.


He first visited the area in 2010 and had been based at Base Woodbourne. Even though he is used to a much warmer climate he says the relaxed atmosphere of Marlborough reminds him a lot of Hawaii.

Picking the pinot noir is right up former Otago resident Kurt Robinson's alley as he has a special interest in red wines. He is already a few months ahead of the other students, having started the course in July last year.

Kurt comes from a background in construction but has decided to follow his passion for wine. "I spent a year in France as a kid and I guess that's where I fell in love with the wine industry," he says.

Lecturer David is also new to Marlborough having moved from Australia to take up the position this year. He comes from a long career in wine making and has been loving his time so far in Marlborough.

The huge amount of premium wine producing vineyards is something he is particularly impressed with. "I have had a look around a few wineries and chatted to some people in the industry but I haven't had enough time yet to really get to know the area. One thing though is that in Australia you don't get this high number of premium wineries in one area, which is just amazing," he says.

He will be guiding the students as they undertake white and red wine making projects using equipment at NMIT.

The Marlborough Express