NMIT graduate is one lucky vintner

NMIT graduate is one lucky vintner

Luca Fant is a qualified viticulturist working as an assistant winemaker for Huia Vineyard - producers of award winning organic and biodynamic wines.

Luca completed his winemaking qualifications with NMIT because he wanted to learn and work in the heart of New Zealand’s wine industry.

After one year designing mechanical cranes in Italy and a further six years working as an agriculture diesel mechanic and a European car mechanic in New Zealand, Luca had grown tired of sitting in front of the computer and felt a strong pull to be among the vines.

“I’m very into technology and science but cannot do either without some kind of art or culture. I think winemaking is the perfect match between science and art. All your senses are involved and you are trying to transfer emotion with your product.”

His study of wine and fermenting began very early. The ex mechanical engineer grew up in the small village of Belluno in Northern Italy which is known for producing some of the best Prosecco in the world. His family owned an organic and biodynamic farm and his grandfather and uncle used to make their own wine.

As soon as he was able to, Luca enrolled on the three year Bachelor of Viticulture and Winemaking and moved to the Marlborough region. “NMIT is in the middle of everything plus in Marlborough you get to experience the reality of small, medium and large wineries.”

Luca now works at Huia Vineyards near Renwick as an assistant winemaker. He is involved in all aspects of the business from the vineyard to the laboratory to the marketing.

Some days you’ll find him outdoors checking the irrigation, digging weeds, and pruning. Other days are spent checking the wine and shipping out boxes to market.

“It’s not like an eight to five at the office,” he says, “I really love this.”

Assistant winemakers are not usually as hands on as Luca, but Huia Vineyards is a small winery therefore employees receive more responsibility.

The vintner loves working for a 100% organic biodynamically managed vineyard that is chemical and herbicide free. He says they are aiming to create an environment that works with nature to achieve results instead of using chemicals that work against nature. “Organic is the way to go. It’s the future.”

The journey from viticulture student to assistant winemaker was a busy one. Luca juggled study and full-time work for the duration of three years, which left little time for anything else, including quality time with his understanding partner, but as he says “if it’s not challenging what’s the point of doing it?” 

Like so many students studying viticulture, Luca began his role at Huia at the end of his first year of study. He say the skills he learned at NMIT during the first year helped land him the position.

“The fact I was studying winemaking and had a genuine interest in organic winemaking showed that I was interested and wanted to learn more.”

His favourite subject within the programme was the module on plant science. He also valued the structure of the programme and the requirement for students to complete a vintage in the second year.

If you would like to complete a wine making course in New Zealand, Luca has this to say: “Do it. It’s an amazing industry to be in, especially here in New Zealand. Vineyards are heading more and more towards organic in a sustainable way. It’s the right place to be.”

Find out more about studying Viticulture and Winemaking at NMIT.

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