Students from Hawke's Bay high schools recently had a hands-on experience of vintage, picking grapes, analysing the fruit and making their own wine.

The group were taking part in a two-day workshop, one of a range of holiday tasters offered by EIT to senior high school students, giving them the opportunity to explore career and tertiary study options.

For the School of Viticulture and Wine Science taster, the group hand harvested merlot from a vineyard in Omarunui Rd, Taradale. Flavours were good, said viticulture lecturer Tim Creagh, although the sugars were low after a cool and wet month in the Bay.

"The quality of the fruit was a bit variable and it took a lot of work for them to pick their way through the bunches."

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The following morning the students recorded pH levels and titratable acidity in EIT's science laboratories, guided by wine science lecturer Shaun La Franco, formerly from Amisfield Winery in Central Otago, and former Vidal's winemaker Elise Montgomery, an EIT technician.

Because the brix they measured were low, the students were asked to determine how much sugar they needed to add to achieve the level of alcohol they wanted in their wine. The exercise concluded with them bottling their wine, which EIT presented to their parents and caregivers.

The 'taster' comprised 10 students, three teachers and a science technician from Napier Girls' High School, a German exchange student at Taradale High School, two Lindisfarne College students and one from Karamu High School.