Bayer Central Otago Young Viticulturist of the Year 2017

Annabel Bulk Bayer Central Otago Young Viticulturist of the Year 2017

Congratulations to Annabel Bulk from Felton Road who has become the Bayer Central Otago Young Viticulturist of the Year 2017. She will be the first female contestant through to the National Final since 2011 and only the fourth ever female to compete in the finals. Bulk has placed 2nd or 3rd the last couple of years so was thrilled all her hard work has paid off and she finally took out the title.

Congratulations also goes to Ben Holt from Carrick Estate who came second and Derek Beirnes from Akarua who came third.

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.

The other contestants were: Alex Easton, Grape Vision; Annie Gilchrist, Felton Road; Brenda Stringer, Peregrine; Hannah Meehan, Peregrine and Katrina Jackson, Chard Farm.

It was a slightly milder day out at the Otago Polytechnic Central Campus with no frost, making the digging challenges a little easier. Contestants had to rotate around the questions which included trellising, attaching a mulcher to a tractor, pruning, first aid, wine assessment, irrigation and pests and diseases.

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 BBQ.

The awards dinner was held at the Bannockburn Hotel where the contestants delivered their speeches. Erica Crawford from Loveblock was the guest speaker and shared some great “pearls of wisdom” from her successful career in the wine industry.

Bulk will now represent Central Otago in the National Final on 29th August, held in conjunction with Bragato - this year in Marlborough. She will 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 an amazing prize package of a Hyundai Santa Fe for an entire 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.

The Wairarapa competition is on Thursday 20th July at Palliser Estate and this will complete the regional finals.