Emily Gaspard-Clark, from Spy Valley Wines in Marlborough, has taken out the National Final to become the Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker of the Year 2019.
Following the regional finals held around the country in August, the three finalists – Emily, Kate Franklin from Sacred Hill representing Hawke’s Bay and Jordan Moores from Felton Road representing Central Otago – competed for the title on 17 September at NMIT.
It was a tough day as the three were stretched and tested on their winemaking knowledge and skills at a very high level. Firstly they had a week to prepare a presentation entitled: Is New Zealand wine export growth sustainable?
“It seems our future is in good hands” said Nicky Grandorge from New Zealand Winegrowers and National Co-Ordinator of the competition. “They had all undertaken some serious research and really thought about the future of our industry, offering very well thought out plans and ideas so we can remain sustainable for many years to come.”
They then had a general wine knowledge and essay paper, an interview and a CAPEX paper. This was followed by wine judging and running fining trials in the laboratory. Farmlands laid on a gourmet BBQ lunch to keep everyone going.
Their final challenge was to give a speech to the large crowd at the Awards Dinner held at Wither Hills. Their topic was “What makes your region the best wine producing region in New Zealand?” Needless to say there were some very passionate speeches, each proud of the uniqueness of their region and what it contributes to the NZ wine industry.
The calibre of contestants was very high and they all won at least one of the tough sections, with Emily finally gaining the most points across the board.
Not only did Emily win the prestigious title of Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker of the Year 2019, but the trophy which is a bespoke mini barrel. She also won an educational trip to Burgundy, a $2000 Programmed Property Services Education Scholarship, a Riedel decanter, a mixed case of wine from Winejobsonline and cash. She will also be an Associate Judge at the NZ Wine of the Year competition, receive a personal tasting experience with a Villa Maria senior winemaker and attend the NZ Wine Awards in November.
The national final will rotate around the regions each year, so next year will move to either Hawke’s Bay or Central Otago. This adds to the great community feel of the programme, as senior members of the industry also get involved with judging and enjoy supporting these passionate, emerging young winemakers.