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Young gun takes out Competenz Central Otago Young Cellarhand of the Year Competition

It was a close race to the finish in the Competenz Central Otago Young Cellarhand of the Year competition held at VinPro winery last Friday with Simon Gourley from the Central Otago Wine Company and Abby Gallagher from Mt Difficulty Wines tied for first place going in to the final challenge. The “Cellar Challenge” proved to be the decider with Simon Gourley taking out the win from runner-up Abby Gallagher and 3rd place-getter Jade McCormick from Amisfield.

Simon Gourley returned to Central Otago last year after heading to Australia to gain valuable work experience in the Coonawarra wine region. More familiar with viticulture having been a previous winner of the Bayer Central Otago Young Viticulturist Competition in 2013, Simon is relatively new to the winemaking side of things but has proved he is a great allrounder and has an excellent knowledge of both the vineyard and winery operations which he thinks gave him an edge in the competition.

“One of the sections was on viticulture general knowledge and so it was an advantage having worked previously on vineyards. Having that understanding of what goes on in the vineyard certainly helps when making the final wine.

“Being involved in the competition was a great opportunity and I’m looking forward to seeing what else is in store”, said Mr Gourley.

The contestants were required to complete 8 different sectors including forklift driving, assembling a pump, first aid, wine tasting, budgeting, fault finding, lab work and a quiz.

Glenys Coughlan, General Manager for the Central Otago Winegrowers’ Association was thrilled with how the inaugural event went. “We wanted to create an opportunity for our Young Cellarhands to further develop and enhance their skills and based on feedback from the contestants we feel that this event has certainly achieved that.”

The competition was sponsored by Competenz a National training organisation that supports New Zealand’s engineering, manufacturing, forestry, printing, sign making, journalism, and transport industries. The Competenz Central Otago Young Cellarhand of the Year receives a $1000 cash prize and all contestants will receive their first year free when they sign up for either the Level 3 or 4 New Zealand Certificate in Cellar Operations.



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