A Central Otago winemaker has been named the 2019 Young Horticulturist of the Year, beating finalists from five other horticultural sectors
Simon Gourley is a viticulturist at Domaine Thomson Wines and had earlier won the Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year competition.
He then went on to represent the viticultural sector for the national title, against five other finalists from other horticultural sectors - Landscaping NZ, NZ Flower Growers, NZ Horticulture, NZ Plant Producers and NZ Amenity Horticulture.
The contestants were tested in-depth on a wide range of skills and knowledge related to horticulture.
This included their own specific sectors as well as biosecurity, machinery, HR, agchem, leadership skills, presentation skills, budgeting and community engagement.
Several weeks were also spent working on the AGMARDT Market Innovation Project.
Contestants had to submit a business plan for a new product they would like to develop and launch, then were quizzed by a panel of judges on its viability.
They also had to give a speech at the awards dinner in front of a large audience of key horticultural leaders.
Leadership and communities manager for NZ Winegrowers and national co-ordinator for Young Viticulturist, Nicky Grandorge said it was a tough competition.
"Simon has worked extremely hard and is a very talented young viticulturist. The wine industry is incredibly proud of him winning this prestigious competition."
Gourley was the eighth viticulturist to win the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition in the 15 years it has been running.
"It is exciting to know the New Zealand wine industry has such strong leaders emerging for the future."