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Viticulturists from throughout the region came head to head last week but only one could be crowned king, or in this case queen, of the vines.

Katrina Jackson of Chard Farm was named Corteva Central Otago Young Viticulturist of the Year 2021.

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

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

Contestants undertook practical skills-based challenges including pruning, trellising, wine knowledge, machinery and the crowd favourite, the Hortisports undertaken in a race though the vines speech at the awards dinner on Thursday night.

The Young Viticulturist of the Year competition is in its16th year and consists of six regional finals, focusing on core industry skills.

Annabel Wylie, of Grape Vision, strains a fence as part of the Hoitisports competition. 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,” she 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 Young Vit competition.

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

Queen of the vines . . .Katrina Jackson was named Corteva Central Otago Young Viticulturist of the Year 2021.PHOTO: NICKY GRANDORGE