Congratulations to Sam Bain from Villa Maria, Hawke’s Bay who became the 2021 Corteva NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year on 27th January 2022.
Now in its sixteenth year, the NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year provides a fantastic opportunity for viticulturists 30 years or under to upskill, grow in confidence, widen their network, and start making a name for themselves within the industry. It begins with six regional competitions and culminates in a national final.
“I’ve finally got it!” Said Bain, with a mix of relief, pride and excitement, as it started sinking in that all his hard work had paid off.
Congratulations also to Jess Wilson from Whitehaven Wines in Marlborough who came second and Courtney Sang from Obsidian, Waiheke Island who came third.
The other contestants were Albie Feary from Ata Rangi, Tristan van Schalkwyk from The Boneline and Katrina Jackson from Chard Farm.
Sam Bain, who is Vineyard Manager of Spring Hill Vineyard, also won the BioStart Hortisports and the Ecotrellis Trellising Trophy.
The judges commented on how passionate and talented all the contestants are and were impressed with their leadership skills and especially their adaptability over the last few months and especially the last few days.
With the move to Red in the Covid traffic light system, original plans were very quickly changed to ensure the competition was safe to go ahead. For extra safety it was relocated to a remote ‘secret’ vineyard to keep numbers very limited and to be away from a winery or other people. Everything was outside with all government recommendations followed. The Awards Dinner was cancelled although a celebration dinner will be held later in the year when safe to do so.
“We always throw in a curveball for the National Final…but none of us were expecting another Covid curveball! However, thanks to the passion and determination of the amazing Young Vit Community we managed to run the competition safely and avoid postponing for a third time,” noted Nicky Grandorge, National Co-Ordinator.
“It has been immensely uplifting to have everyone come together and pull out all the stops, so the 2021 National Finalists could finally get together and compete.”
The original competition was set for 26 August, then rescheduled for November, before being rescheduled again to January due to Covid restrictions.
The contestants were tested on a wide range of skills and knowledge including setting up a seed drill, trellising, pest and disease, an interview, frost protection as well as the BioStart Hortisports. They had already previously submitted a research report entitled ‘Assess various pruning options during a labour shortage.’, thus addressing one of the real challenges currently facing the wine industry. Jess Wilson won $1000 for the best report and presentation.
The contestants finally gave a speech – this year in the vineyards, instead of at the dinner – where they had to promote the best new varietal or clonal option for their region. There were some very insightful recommendations, suggesting the New Zealand wine industry has an exciting and successful future ahead.
Sam Bain will be taking home some amazing prizes. Apart from being awarded the title of 2021 Corteva Young Viticulturist of the Year and trophy, he also won a Hyundai Kona for a year, an Ecotrellis travel grant, an educational visit to Australia with Corteva, Bahco golden secateurs and other cash prizes.