Gibbston viticulturist national winner

Nick Paulin made history at the weekend by being the first Central Otago person to win the national Young Viticulturist of the Year title, then headed straight back to work.

"We've got some new people starting work on Monday, so I thought I'd better make sure everything was sorted before they started," the 28-year-old manager of Peregrine Wines vineyard at Gibbston told the Otago Daily Times yesterday. .

The national viticulture competition, sponsored by Markhams, is the wine industry's equivalent of the Young Farmer Contest. It was held as part of the Romeo Bragato conference for wine makers and grape growers in Auckland and five regional finalists from throughout the country took part.

It was the sixth year of the contest and the first time a Central Otago competitor had won, contest co-ordinator Emma Taylor said.

It was the third time Mr Paulin had won the regional final and competed in the national event. Last year he was runner-up.

"This is the pinnacle for young viticulturists and it was satisfying to finally win it. It gives you a few more skills and is great in terms of personal development, too. "

As well as practical tasks, wine-tasting, tests of budgeting skills and general knowledge, competitors had to give a speech to more than 400 conference delegates.

Mr Paulin went to school in Invercargill and then completed a degree in viticulture and oenology at Lincoln University. He has worked in Central Otago for seven years.

Mr Paulin said he was uncertain what his next goal would be but he would continue to learn new skills.

"This industry is a constantly-changing one and you never stop learning new things. It's totally dynamic."

His win netted him $2000 cash and $5000 worth of travel to visit grape growing regions overseas.

He also earned the right to represent the New Zealand wine industry at the Young Horticulturist of the Year contest, to be held in Auckland in early November, where he will compete against six competitors from other sectors.

- lynda.van.kempen@odt.co.nz