Woman 2021’s top viticulturist of the year

The best battled it out but only one could be crowned king, or in this case queen, of the vines.

Katrina Jackson of Chard Farm was named as Central Otago Young Viticulturist of the Year 2021 on Thursday last week.

The 28 year-old assistant vineyard manager was one of eight contestants vying for the title.

Nina Downer, of Felton Road, and Annabel Wylie, of Grape Vision, were second and third respectively.

Contestants took part in theory and practical skills-based challenges including pruning, trellising, wine knowledge, machinery and the crowd favourite, the Hortisports — a series of tasks undertaken in a race though the vines.

In its 16th year, the Young Viticulturist of the Year competition consists of six regional finals, focusing on core industry skills.

Chard Farm assistant manager Katrina Jackson rushes her wine barrel to the end of the vines...
Chard Farm assistant manager Katrina Jackson rushes her wine barrel to the end of the vines during the Hortisports race last week.Ms Jackson was named Central Otago Young Viticulturist of the Year. PHOTO: SHANNON THOMSON

Central Otago organiser and 2011 national winner Nick Paulin said the competition was an opportunity for young people involved in viticulture to stretch themselves and their skills, as well as build relationships with others working in the industry throughout the region.

"Part of the competition is as much about education as it is about competing for a prize, so we’re trying to teach these young guys and girls some new skills that will help them in their career," he said.

In a first for the competition, seven of the eight Central Otago contestants were female.

National organiser Nicky Grandorge said this was a reflection of the competition nationally.

"Generally this year we’ve seen more women step up into the competition and I think it really does highlight it’s an exciting industry for men and women," Ms Grandorge said.

Ms Jackson will be the fourth woman out of six to compete in the 2021 Young Viticulturist of the Year national final in Blenheim next month — in a first for the Young Viticulturist of the Year competition.

The national winner will also represent the wine industry in the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition in November.

 - By Shannon Thomson

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