Kelly's studies and working life have taken her from almost becoming a teacher, to working in far-flung parts of Australia and, finally, making a beeline for Marlborough.
The second-year Bachelor of Viticulture and Winemaking at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) student is fulfilling a dream that sprang from her days as a bottle shop assistant earning money for university 20 years ago.
Raised on a back country dry stock farm in Tolaga Bay on the North Island’s East Coast, Kelly dropped her teaching degree in her final semester to take up wine sales, marketing and merchandising. That career took her to the very non-grape Australian areas of Mt Isa and Cooktown and to wine nirvana in the McLaren Valley and the Margaret River.
Returning to New Zealand for a visit in 2014 she decided NMIT was the place to study. “Having the largest wine region on the doorstep of the campus was the big appeal. The wine industry is so supportive here. So many people are willing to mentor you and to give their time and knowledge. The NMIT staff are fantastic. You’re not part of a huge class and so you have so much access to tutors.”
While many of her campus classmates want to be wine makers, Kelly has set her sights on being a viticulturist. “Why wouldn’t you want to work in the vineyard? It’s the best office in the world,” she laughs. She wants to work in organic viticulture and also with non-mainstream varietals. “I’m excited about what’s ahead.”