For Craggy Range viticulturist Caleb Dennis it was a case of third time lucky when he picked up the Bayer Hawke's Bay Young Viticulturist of the Year title last week.

"I was pretty ecstatic to have won this year as it was the third time I had entered," was how he summed it up.

The 27-year-old beat seven other contestants at the Te Awa Winery-staged event to take the Hawke's Bay title and now goes through to the national final against the rest of the industry's best young viticulturists which will be held as part of this year's Romeo Bragato National Conference at the Pettigrew Green Arena in Taradale on August 25-27.

His preparations for the big occasion are already under way.


"I will be hitting the books and looking at things I didn't look at for the regional competition."

This year's regional competition was tightly-contested and, as with previous competitions, featured a diverse range of activities including questions on budgeting, pruning, plant diseases, machinery, irrigation and grafting, as well as having an interview, a quick fire question round and delivering an after dinner speech.

Mr Dennis said the events was challenging and for his step up to the national competition he would review how he went about the regional stages. When he goes up against the rest of the country's top qualifiers he will be looking to make it two in a row for the Bay after Paul Robinson from Villa Maria won last year's national title.

And the region's young viticulturists have created a fine record since the competition was launched in 2006.

Emma Taylor took the national title in 2007, Caine Thompson in 2009, Paul Robinson picked up the first of his two in 2010 and was runner-up the following year.

There is plenty on offer for the winner this year as apart from the prestige of carrying the title there is a $5000 travel voucher from the New Zealand Society for Viticulture and Oenology, one year's use of a Hyundai Santa Fe, $2000 cash, wine glasses and leadership training.

The overall winner also then goes on for a shot at the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition as the representative of the viticultural industry.

Those from the grape-growing side of working the land have done well in past Horticulturist of the Year competitions with five emerging as overall winners, including Ms Taylor and Mr Thompson.

Hawke's Bay Winegrowers Association executive officer James Medina said the 2015 Romeo Bragato Wine conference, which is expected to draw about 600 people from New Zealand and overseas, was an important event for the Bay.

"It is a significant event because it brings a lot of people into the region and is another great opportunity for us to showcase Hawke's Bay," Mr Medina said.