Third time is a charm

Third time is a charm

Third year NMIT Te Pūkenga Viticulture and Winemaking learner, Zac Howell, wins the Marlborough Young Viticulturist of the Year competition for 2023.
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Zac Howell holds the Marlborough Young Viticulturist Award for 2023.

The competition runs throughout the day and into the evening. It is broken down into different events that are akin to what might be encountered in the industry on any given day.

“There are practical modules on irrigation, pruning, machinery, trellising and theory around pests and disease, budgeting and nutrition, which all happen during the day,” Zac says.

“In the evening there is a dinner where everyone competing presents a three-minute speech. Public speaking is something I’ve been working on, so I quite enjoyed the opportunity to stand up and talk to a large crowd,” he says.

Zac spoke on the gender pay gap in viticulture, where he says there is a lot of interest in addressing it. There was also a general knowledge quiz about the wine industry and the past season.

Zac has entered the competition three times; that’s every year he has been at NMIT Te Pūkenga working towards a Bachelor of Viticulture and Winemaking(external link). Although he felt a bit of pressure to win as a returning competitor, he takes more away from the experience than just winning.

“I always learn a lot from it,” Zac says. “It’s a tough contest, the hortisports component is really spectator friendly and the whole competition is a lot of fun.”

Zac studies part-time as he works at Indevin, one of New Zealand’s leading producers of wine. After growing up on a dairy farm in the Waikato, he came to the Marlborough region in 2020 for a summer job and never looked back.

“Studying at NMIT has been great,” he says. “Part-time study allows me to pursue what I’m interested in and the whole programme is really industry focused.”

Zac, 28, will represent Marlborough in the National Final in Hawke’s Bay on 30 August.

For more about our Viticulture and Winemaking programmes, including our new Level 4 Certificate in Wine Growing, visit our website(external link).

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