Central Otago man named Young Viticulturist of the Year

Central Otago's Simon Gourley has been named the Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year, in what organisers say was a close competition.

Six finalists have been competing for the prestigious title, with a series of practical events and presentations.

Gourley is viticulturist at Domaine Thomson Wines in central Otago.

Leadership and communities manager at New Zealand Winegrowers and national co-ordinator of the competition, Nicky Grandorge said the calibre of the finalists was incredibly high this year.

"We threw a lot of different things at them, which they all tackled with great professionalism," she said.

As well as the practical test, finalists had three weeks prior to the competition to complete their AGMARDT project, which was to research and write a biosecurity plan for their vineyard. 

Biosecurity manager at NZ Winegrowers Dr Ed Massey said the reports provide valuable information which he plans to share with the industry.

This is the second year running the trophy has been taken down to central Otago and the third time since the competition started in 2006. 

Annabel Bulk won the competition in 2018 and Nick Paulin in 2011.

Ben Richards from Indevin in Marlborough was second, while George Bunnett from Craggy Range in Wairarapa was in third.

The other three finalists were Jacob Dromgool from The Landing in Northland, Zoe Marychurch from Pegasus Bay in north Canterbury and Nick Putt from Villa Maria in Hawke's Bay.