Felton Road viticulturist first woman since 2011 to reach national final
It has been six years since a female viticulturist has taken on the blokes - and won.
Felton Road viticulturist Annabel Bulk become the Bayer Central Otago Young Viticulturist of the Year 2017 after a hard-fought battle against seven other contestants at the Otago Polytechnic Central Campus on Friday.
Young Viticulturist of the Year national co-ordinator Nicky Grandorge said Bulk was the first female contestant through to the national final since 2011 and only the fourth ever female to compete in the finals.
"Five out of the eight contestants were girls this year, which was a real endorsement that viticulture makes an exciting career for both men and women."
Bulk said she had placed second and third in previous years so was thrilled her hard work had paid off and finally took out the title.
Challenges included trellising, attaching a mulcher to a tractor, pruning, first aid, wine assessment, irrigation and pests and diseases.
Mild weather made the digging challenges a little easier, Grandorge said.
"The colourful Biostart Hortisports race saw the contestants go head to head in various challenges including rolling barrels between the vines and making up boxes. Bahco provided all the tools which the contestants could keep and Fruitfed Supplies cooked up a delicious barbecue."
Ben Holt, of Carrick Estate, came second and Derek Beirnes, of Akarua, placed third.
The other contestants were: Alex Easton, of Grape Vision; Annie Gilchrist, of Felton Road; Brenda Stringer, of Peregrine; Hannah Meehan, of Peregrine and Katrina Jackson, of Chard Farm.
Bulk will now represent Central Otago in the National Final on August 29, held in conjunction with Bragato - this year in Marlborough. She would compete against finalists from Auckland/Northern, Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa and Marlborough.
The national winner not only gains the title of Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year 2017, but a Hyundai Santa Fe for a year, a $5000 AGMARDT travel scholarship, $2000 cash, wine glasses and a leadership week where they meet some of the top leaders in the New Zealand wine industry. They also go on to represent the wine industry in the Young Horticulturist of the Year Competition in November.