Young North Island winemakers compete in national final

The national final of this year’s annual Tonellerie de Mercurey Young Winemaker of the Year will be held in Auckland tomorrow; Wednesday 20 September with North Islanders Sara Addis from Trinity Hill Winery and Tom Hindmarsh from Dry River Wines competing against their South Island counterparts.

North Island winners were put to test at the Eastern Institute of Technology School of Viticulture and Oenology last month. Tests included wine blending, lab analysis, pitching the blend to a panel of judges, cellar competency, wine fault finding, public speaking and general wine knowledge.

The final challenge was a blind tasting wine options at Church Road Winery where contestants tasted four wines without knowledge of the wines’ identities. Winner, Sara Addis, works part time at Trinity Hill and is a student at EIT, studying a double graduate diploma in viticulture and oenology. She has worked a number of vintages, including one at Moet & Chandon, Champagne in 2016 and as a cellar hand at Cloudy Bay, Marlborough.

The judges comprised of well-known and respected winemakers from Hawkes Bay, including Tony Bish, Damian Fischer, Kate Radburnd, Ant McKenzie, Barry Riwai and Simon Nash MW.

The North Island competition was organized by five volunteers from the Hawke’s Bay wine industry, including 2015 Tonellerie de Mercurey New Zealand Young Winemaker winner Lauren Swift from Ash Ridge Wines, Hannah Burns from Craggy Range, Haley La Franco from La Franco Ltd, Sophie Harris from Rod McDonald Wines and Shaun La Franco from EIT.

“It is brilliant to see this competition become an annual event. We are such a young winemaking nation and it is important to recognise the next generation of winemakers we have coming through the ranks,” says Hannah Burns, of Craggy Range.

“I would like to thank our National Sponsors; Tonellerie de Mercurey, OI, Vintech Pacific, Farmlands and Laffort, along with our Regional Sponsors; Hawkes Bay Wine Co., Air NZ, EIT, Viniquip, Staples Rodway, Guala Closures, Charta Packaging, Pan Print, Glyn Rees-Jones Real Estate, Buzz Electric, Farmex and Breezing. Finally a huge thank you to our judges who gave up a day in the winery to be involved with the competition. We would also like to thank all the wineries who donated wines to the dinner event. Without all this generosity, this competition would not be possible.”