The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

2021 Corteva NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year announced

Sam Bain

Sam Bain from Villa Maria, Hawke’s Bay, has been named the 2021 Corteva NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year in the National Final held at the end of January.

Jess Wilson from Whitehaven Wines in Marlborough came in second and Courtney Sang from Obsidian, Waiheke Island, came third.

Bain, who is the Vineyard Manager at Spring Hill Vineyard, also won the BioStart Hortisports and the Ecotrellis Trellising Trophy.

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.

“We always throw in a curveball for the National Final but none of us were expecting another COVID curveball!” says Nicky Grandorge, National Co-ordinator.

“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.

“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 where they had to promote the best new varietal or clonal option for their region.

As well as being awarded the title of 2021 Corteva Young Viticulturist of the Year and trophy, Bain 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.

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