Aspiring winemakers from throughout Central Otago competed to be crowned the region’s best young winemaker — but it was a North Cantabrian who came out on top.
Eight competitors from throughout Central Otago, Waitaki and North Canterbury took part in the 2022 Tonnellerie de Mercurey Central Otago Young Winemaker of the Year at VinPro in Cromwell last week.
Industry skills ranging from wine blending, tasting and laboratory techniques through to marketing and public speaking were judged, as well as the Vin Olympics obstacle race.
Greystone Wines assistant winemaker Georgia Mehlhopt (27) won the competition and was named 2022 Tonnellerie de Mercurey North Canterbury Young Winemaker of the Year.
She will be the first person to represent North Canterbury in the national finals.
The Central Otago title went to Amisfield laboratory technician Eliana Leal.
Both will represent their regions at the national final in Marlborough on November 3.
The two women previously worked together at Amisfield until Ms Mehlhopt moved to North Canterbury earlier this year.
The bulk of competitors — six out of eight — were female, and New Zealand Winegrowers leadership and communities manager and New Zealand Winemaker of the Year national co-ordinator Nicky Grandorge said it was a growing trend.
‘‘It’s really fantastic to see more women are coming into the industry at an early age and we’ve also seen this with the Young Vit Competition as well. . .we’re gradually seeing more women see this industry as a great career opportunity.’’
The competition was a great way for contestants to get to know themselves and grow in the industry, Ms Grandorge said.
‘‘[The competition is] really important for a couple of reasons — firstly it helps young winemakers focus and study so it stretches them, it gives them a platform to make a name for themselves but also it brings the community together.’’