Hawkes Bay hat trick for 2016 Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year

Cameron Price from Villa Maria (Hawke’s Bay) has notched up the prestigious title of Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year 2016. 

The win makes it an impressive hat trick for Hawke’s Bay, which has taken out the title for the last three years, with Paul Robinson also from Villa Maria winning in 2014 and Caleb Dennis from Craggy Range in 2015.

After a tough final, Cameron was thrilled to be announced winner at the Bragato Wine Awards. “All that hard work paid off,” he says.

Cameron is the vineyard supervisor working on Villa Maria’s Ngakirikiri, Vidal and Twyford Gravels vineyards. He has been there since May and is enjoying the challenges of his new position, supervising 60 hectares of vines.

The 26-year-old grew up in Palmerston North and is from a family of plumbers. However his passion for viticulture and wine led him to Hawke’s Bay to study viticulture at EIT in 2008. He continues studying part-time as he furthers his career working full-time, learning and upskilling on the job.

Mike Winter from Amisfield was runner up, doing Central Otago proud, taking the win ahead of strong competition from contestants Tim Adams, Brenton O’Riley and Mark Langlands.

“The judges commented several times on what a high calibre group of contestants there was in the competition and what positive, respectful and genuinely nice guys they all were,” says national co-ordinator Nicky Grandorge, “which is exactly what we are looking for from our future leaders.”

Tests in this year’s national final included: giving a vineyard tour to some ‘international visitors’ who quizzed them about viticultural practices and the New Zealand wine industry; setting up a trellising and an irrigation system; a water theory question; pests and diseases; biosecurity; health and safety; and budgeting. 

Contestants also had an interview to hear about their visions for the New Zealand wine industry and went head-to-head in the BioStart Hortisports race.

The quick-fire buzzer round was held at the Bragato conference, where contestants gave their speeches to the 350-strong wine industry audience at the Bragato wine awards.

Cameron’s speech, ‘How do we create and maintain value in our industry for the future?’, gave the audience a few things to think about, as well as a few chuckles.

Cameron not only won the title of Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year, but also a prize package of: a $5000 AGMARDT travel scholarship; a Hyundai Santa Fe for a year; $2000 cash; wine glasses; and a leadership week to meet some of the top leaders in the New Zealand wine industry. 

He now goes on to represent the wine industry in the Young Horticulturist of the Year in November. 

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