Tai Nelson Wins NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year 2023

Tai Nelson announced as the NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year 2023 – Tai Nelson from Soljans Estate in Kumeu, Auckland has taken out the prestigious title of New Zealand Young Viticulturist of the Year 2023.

The National Final was held under beautiful blue skies at Paritua Vineyards in Hawke’s Bay and the winners announced at the Awards Dinner in Hastings.

Tai Nelson from Soljans Estate in Kumeu, Auckland New Zealand Young Viticulturist of the Year 2023.
Tai Nelson from Soljans Estate in Kumeu, Auckland

Congratulations to Nick Putt from Craggy Range in Hawke’s Bay who came a very close second and to Nina Downer from Felton Road who placed third. Zac Howell from Indevin in Marlborough also impressed the judges with his skills and knowledge throughout the competition.

The Young Viticulturist of the Year is a very tough competition and the contestants were certainly put through their paces and were tested on trellising, irrigation, machinery, pest & disease management, wine knowledge and had a grilling interview. Prior to the competition itself they all submitted their report on their recommendations for establishing and managing a sustainable vineyard which would thrive long into the future.

There is great support for the contestants with sponsors, colleagues and previous Young Vits all helping them prepare for the competition and encouraging them throughout the day.

“It’s wonderful to see this support for the Young Vits. It’s a very positive environment and a very special community to be a part of” says Nicky Grandorge, Leadership & Communities Manager at New Zealand Winegrowers. “The future of our industry looks bright.”

The large attendance at the dinner also reflected this. Yvonne Lorkin, drinks editor, wine judge and wine commentator, entertained the audience and kept the evening on track as MC. Andrew McCrory was the guest speaker and inspired the crowd with his stories of extreme distance running, staying both mentally and physically fit whilst raising money for various charities.

Tai is 24 years old and one of the youngest contestants ever to win the competition. He is taking home an amazing prize package of a Hyundai Kona for a year, a $6000 Ecotrellis Travel Grant, Electrocoup secateurs, a leadership week and cash. He will also go on to represent the wine industry in the 2024 Young Horticulturist of the Year competition.

He also scooped up prizes for winning the Ecotrellis trellising section, the BioStart Hortisports and the wine knowledge section and will go on to be an Associate Judge in November.

Nick Putt won the best report and presentation, impressing the judges with his understanding of the wide range of aspects which need to be considered to establish and manage a successful vineyard.

The competition is made possible thanks to all the sponsors involved: BioStart, Ecotrellis, Hyundai, Agritrade, Constellation Brands, Empak, Fruitfed Supplies, Fendt, Klima, Ormond Nurseries, Roots, Shoots & Fruits, Villa Maria-Indevin, Waterforce, AEG, NZSVO and Winejobsonline.


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