Viticulturists from four Waiheke vineyards are taking part in the Auckland/Northern region competition. From left, Courtney Sang, Aidan Erceg, Annalise Williams, George Loughnan and Lee Griffiths. Photo Erin Johnson

Five Waiheke viticulturists are in the running for the title of Auckland/Northern Young Viticulturist of the Year 2021.

Nicky Grandorge of New Zealand Wine says this is the first year there has been a full contingent of eight contestants in the Auckland/Northern region competition and the first time women have taken part in the competition. 

“The winner from this competition will go through to the national final in August to compete against the winners from Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa, Marlborough, North Canterbury and Central Otago,” Nicky says.

The Young Viticulturist competition has been running since 2006, but the Auckland region has only had its own competition since 2016. 

This year’s competitors from Waiheke are Annalise Williams of Cable Bay Vineyards, Courtney Sang of Obsidian Vineyard, Lee Griffiths from Te Motu, and Aidan Erceg and George Loughnan from Man O’ War Vineyards. They will compete against viticulturists from Soljan in Kumeu and Heron’s Flight at Matakana.

In 2017, Obsidian Vineyard viticulturist Tim Adams won the national competition. 

Tim says the competition was tough and included an external project, an interview process covering topics such as vine health and nutrition and a horti-sports section that was like a decathlon for viticulturists.

Tim says the exposure that came from winning the competition was huge and gave him the confidence to move forward in viticulture. • Erin Johnson

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