It was a long, tough day as the eight contestants worked their way around nine challenges which tested their physical skills as well as their viticultural knowledge. They also went head to head in the BioStart Hortisports at lunchtime and finally undertook a quickfire buzzer round and delivered a 3-minute speech at the awards dinner held at Wither Hills.
They were tested on pretty much everything required to run a vineyard successfully and all showed they were very capable. "It's very evident they had all worked hard in the lead up to the competition and they approached the day with great enthusiasm." Said Nicky Grandorge, National Co-Ordinator. "The caliber of contestants was high and there was a really positive vibe as they also gave each other a lot of respect and support. The sponsors and judges felt they were all very professional and already showing great leadership qualities."
Craig Harper the solo cyclist who has just completed the race across America was the guest speaker at the dinner. He talked about the importance of preparation, setting goals outside your comfort zone and not giving up. This was great advice for the young vits as they embark on their careers, and also inspirational to everyone in the audience.
Ben Richards will go on to represent Marlborough in the national final which is held in conjunction with Bragato at the end of August, this year being held in Hawke's Bay. This will be the third year that Richards has been in the national final, so he will be more determined than ever to take out the overall title.
The national winner will not only become the Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year 2019 but will win an amazing prize package of a Hyundai Kona for a year, an Ecotrellis Travel Grant, Bahco golden secateurs, a leadership week and cash. They will also go on to represent the wine industry in the Young Horticulturist of the Year Competition in November. There is also an AGMARDT prize for the best national finalist's project which they undertake in the build-up to the national final.
This was the fourth regional competition and the dates for the remaining two are:
Waipara – 12th July, Greystone
Central Otago – 18th July, Central Polytechnic, Bannockburn
National Final – 26th August at Te Awa, with the winner announced at the Bragato dinner on 29th August.