Ben McNab wins delayed 2021 Young Winemaker of the Year Competition

Congratulations to Ben McNab from Palliser Estate in Wairarapa who became the 2021 Tonnellerie de Mercurey Young Winemaker.  The 2021 National Final was postponed several times due to the pandemic but finally went ahead on 22nd June 2022 at Amisfield winery in the Pisa Ranges near Cromwell, Central Otago.

Ben McNab, young winemaker
Ben McNab from Palliser Estate in Wairarapa

The other two finalists Jordan Moores Valli in Central Otago and Peter Russell from Matua in Marlborough also excelled themselves with Peter Russell winning the Fruitfed Supplies Speeches and Jordan winning the Villa Maria-Indevin Wine Judging section.  All three were delighted and relieved the competition could finally go ahead.

This was the very first time the Young Winemaker National Final has been held in Central Otago and also the very first time someone from Wairarapa has won the prestigious competition.  Originally planned as a spring then summer competition, it eventually took place in winter with the snowcapped mountains adding a dramatic backdrop for the day.

The finalists undertook a wide range of challenges covering everything needed to be a top winemaker.  This included laboratory skills, wine industry knowledge, CAPEX, wine judging and an interview.  They also had to prepare and deliver a presentation entitled “What can the wine industry do to reach carbon zero by 2050?” They offered the judges some very well thought out suggestions and plans.

Peter Russell - Ben McNab - Jordan Moores young winemaker
Peter Russell – Ben McNab – Jordan Moores

The Awards Dinner was held at another stunning Central Otago setting  – The Canyon at Tarras Vineyard.  The finalists poured their wines under the stars to welcome the guests, including the NZ Winegrowers Board, before moving inside to deliver their speeches.  They each spoke about their favourite wine varietal and how its future looked.

Although a long, tough day, there was a lot of joy as wine industry members  from around the country could come together again in such a beautiful setting and support the future of the industry.

This programme supports emerging Young Winemakers helping them upskill, widen their network and giving them a platform to share their ideas for the future.

The competition is made possible by all the generous sponsors: Tonnellerie de Mercurey, Booster Wine Group, Crown Sheet Metal, Fruitfed Supplies, Hillebrand, Indevin, Laffort, Programmed Property Services, Visy, Winejobsonline and New World.

Apart from being crowned the 2021 Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker of the Year Ben won an amazing prize package which includes a travel grant to visit the Tonnellerie de Mercurey (cooperage) in Burgundy, be an associate judge in the New World Wine Awards and review wines in DrinksBiz magazine.

Ben had competed last spring in the 2021 North Island Regional Competition which takes place in Hawke’s Bay. The 2022 competitions will run throughout September with the 2022 National Final set for November.

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