Courtney Sang from Obsidian 2021 Corteva Northern Young Viticulturist of the Year

Courtney Sang - Young Viticulturist of the Year
Courtney Sang

Congratulations to  Courtney Sang from Obsidian on Waiheke Island who became the Corteva Northern Young Viticulturist of the Year 2021 on 3 June following the competition held at Goldie Estate on Waiheke Island.

Congratulations also goes to Aidan Erceg who was Runner Up and George Laughlan placing third.  They are both from Man O’War on Waiheke. 

There were eight contestants competing throughout the day.  The other contestants were Annalise Williams from Cable Bay, Lee Griffiths from Te Motu, Leon Henson from Heron’s Fight and Tyler Soljan and Tai Nelson both from Soljan’s. 

Courtney Sang George Laughnan & Aidan Erceg - Young Viticulturist of the Year
Courtney Sang George Laughnan & Aidan Erceg

It was a fantastic day and there were a lot of firsts for this regional competition which encompasses Northland, Matakana, West Auckland and Waiheke.  This was the first time since it began in 2016 that there have been the full eight contestants.  It was the first time someone from Matakana was in the competition and it was the first time any women have been in this competition, highlighting that viticulture is a great career for both men and women.

The Young Vits were tested on all aspects of viticulture including pruning, trellising, nutrition, machinery, budgeting and wine knowledge. They also went head to head in the popular Biostart Hortisports race at lunch time which was followed by a Fruitfed Supplies BBQ.

Northern Young Viticulturist of the Year Contestants
All Northern Contestants

“It takes time for each competition to build up and we are delighted more ambitious and passionate Young Vits in the Northern region are wanting to stretch themselves and start making a name for themselves” says Nicky Grandorge, National Co-Ordinator.  Its growth is also thanks to the hard work and passion of industry volunteers, sponsors and regional organisers.  The regional Chair for this competition is  Adam Yukich from Villa Maria who has also previously competed. 

Courtney was thrilled to take out the title and feels proud to represent Waiheke in the National Final being held in August in Marlborough.  She will compete against the winners from Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa, Marlborough, N.Canterbury & Central Otago.

This year the contestants were also tasked with creating a short Biosecurity video in their vineyards prior to the competition.  These were shown at the dinner and Lee Griffiths won this section with his informative and entertaining video.

The Awards dinner was held at the beautiful Wild Estate where everyone enjoyed wines generously donated by wineries from around the Northern Region.   This is where the contestants gave their speeches, impressing the large audience as they spoke about big issues such as climate change, labour shortages and wine trends.

The audience also heard from Fabian Yukich, the Deputy Chair of New Zealand Winegrowers, who has also played an integral part in driving sustainability in the New Zealand wine industry.

There were some great prizes won across the board and Courtney will now be in with the chance of winning even greater prizes at the National Final.  These include a Hyundai Kona for a year, an Ecotrellis travel grant, an educational visit to Australia with Corteva, Bahco golden secateurs and other cash prizes.  The national winner will also go on to represent the wine industry in the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition in November.

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