Trading building in the big city for the vineyards of Blenheim, Finn Horsfield’s passion for the winemaking industry has seen him receive multiple scholarships and land vital, practical experience.
Finn won an NMIT scholarship, giving him the chance to judge the 2021 New World Wine Awards. In 2021 Finn was a finalist in the regional Young Viticulturist of the Year competition. Unfortunately, he was unwell this year, but he intends to compete in next year’s competition.
Soaking up every drop of opportunity, Finn wants to be as comfortable tasting and judging wine alongside industry experts as he is doing hard labour in the vineyard.
“I’m getting the hang of everything from a winery perspective, and I’m trying to learn as much as I can; I want to work in every aspect of the industry to try and get experience,” he says.
The practical nature of the Bachelor of Viticulture and Winemaking(external link) at NMIT has allowed Finn to confidently apply his knowledge to day-to-day operations.
"It's all very well and good to know theoretically what you're up to, but you need to be able to put it into practice."
Finn has found the programme courses at NMIT to be a great balance between theory and hands-on, practical experience. “The tutors were unreal, to be honest—so helpful and knowledgeable because they come from the industry themselves.”
He says knowing he can keep in touch with some of his tutors to ask questions and speak to them at events highlights the positive nature of the industry and the programme.
“I never finished high school and never thought I’d go to university, so being able to finish a degree the way I have has been huge for my confidence. I never thought I’d be able to do that good, to be honest.”
Finn is now in the Viticulture and Winemaking Industry Advisory Group and has recently met with a group of other young industry trailblazers to discuss where they want the future of winemaking to go.
He hopes to follow his interest in the environmental aspects of viticulture, explore organic production and be creative with sustainability projects.
Having also received the Wine Marlborough Scholarship(external link) in 2021, Finn chose to complete his final semester of study online to take up employment as a vineyard operator.
For the last 10 months, he has been at Dog Point Vineyard(external link) and has just been promoted to Assistant Vineyard Manager.
Nigel Sowman, Viticulture Manager at Dog Point Vineyard has three other staff studying with NMIT currently and finds the continuous upskilling that comes through to be brilliant for the company.
“It challenges us as managers. We move with the times, but having fresh eyes, like Finn’s, that are learning fresh things makes you go, ‘man, I haven’t thought about that for the last 10 years.”