Quality from grape to glass

Quality from grape to glass

International student Yumeng Zhou, who goes by the English name Judy, is one of the first students to graduate with a Bachelor of Viticulture and Winemaking from NMIT.

The 23-year-old is passionate about wine quality - an interest that began at home in Beijing, China while completing the Bachelor in Food Quality and Safety at Beijing University of Agriculture.

A keen wine-taster, Judy’s enduring question is: ‘Which process could give this wine different flavours?’ The entire process, from grape development to finished product has a huge influence on the final result, she says.

For now, Judy is heading home to Beijing to see family and visit wineries in different provinces throughout China, but will return to the Marlborough region in 2018 to work for Saint Clair Family Estate Winery.

She is keen to develop her skills in both winemaking and viticulture while there, and learn more about best methods for growing which she hopes to apply to China’s winegrowing environment.

The wine industry in China is still in its infancy, a fact Judy views as an opportunity. “There are huge amount of table grapes growing in China, but rarely grapes for wine. It does have several ideal sites for winegrowers with plenty of opportunities as well as challenges.

"One winery got the decanter award in China in 2011. I’m surprised that China has an award in the wine industry. It’s starting to get very exciting.”

During her 18 months at NMIT, Judy lived in a homestay in Blenheim with a ‘nice, easy-going and very helpful host’, she says. The Bachelor programme was completed on Marlborough campus - a facility complete with its own research vineyard, wine sensory room and micro-vinification unit.

Students, including Judy, went on numerous vineyard and winery field trips, experienced a wine tasting residential school and completed courses in vineyard practices, grapevine physiology, winemaking processes, winery engineering and sustainable development.

Judy chose NMIT for its reputation and modern facilities. “You’ve got many opportunities here to do focus on development. I think it’s interesting to be involved in innovation. You can take part in this process which makes it very exciting.”

She has been impressed with the learning she received. “In New Zealand there is good viticulture management. And people know what is best for the wine. How to do that, and why to do that.”

Judy is yet another example of the success of a joint venture partnership between NMIT and a growing number of institutes in China. The partnership enables students from China to study part of their degree overseas.

The Bachelor of Viticulture and Winemaking degree began in 2015 at NMIT’s Marlborough campus. NMIT has offered viticulture and wine education for the past 26 years.

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