Simon Gourley from Domaine-Thomson Wines has been named the Central Otago Young Viticulturist of the Year for 2019.

Domaine-Thomson Wines is a family-owned producer, with vineyards and homes in Central Otago and Gevrey-Chambertin, France.

Simon won the title last Thursday following the competition held at Otago Polytechnic Central Campus in Bannockburn.

There were eight contestants competing in total.

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Ben Holt from Akarua came second and Katrina Jackson from Chard Farm was third.
The other contestants were Annabel Angland from Peregrine, Jordan Moores from Felton Rd, Jenna MacKenzie from Viticultura, Tyler Oliver from Vinewise and Hannah van Velthoven from Prophets Rock.

The contestants rotated around challenges such as trellising, pruning, solving tractor issues and answering theory papers on pests, diseases, irrigation and budgeting.

There was also a blind wine tasting to test their knowledge on New Zealand and international wines and they also had an interview.

At lunchtime a crowd gathered to watch the colourful BioStart Hortisports and quick fire buzzer round.

Simon will go on to represent Central Otago in the national final which is held in conjunction with Bragato at the end of August, this year being held in Hawke's Bay. There will be a total of six finalists, with the others coming from Northland, Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa, Marlborough and North Canterbury.

The national winner will be the Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year 2019 and take home a prize package of a Hyundai Kona for a year, an Ecotrellis Travel Grant, Bahco golden secateurs, a leadership week and cash.

They will also go on to represent the wine industry in the Young Horticulturist of the Year Competition in November.

National co-ordinator Nicky Grandorge says the competition always attracts very strong contestants.

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"It's exciting to see the enthusiasm, passion and knowledge that the young vits in this region have for viticulture" she says.

"They all did themselves proud and it is great to know we have strong, skilled leaders coming through for the future."