Simon Gourley of Domaine Thomson Wines is the 2019 Young Horticulturist of the Year.
From Central Otago, Simon (28) represented the NZ Winegrowers sector at the competition, which celebrates excellence in people aged under 30, employed in the horticulture industry.
It’s the second consecutive year the Young Horticulturist (Kaiahuone rangatahi o te tau) title has been won by a viticulturist. Last year’s winner was Annabel Bulk, who is also from Central Otago. The winners were announced at a gala dinner in Auckland last night.
In second place was Rico Mannall, of Christchurch, representing the NZ Plant Producers sector; with Jono Sutton taking third place honours. Jono, from Nelson, was representing the Horticulture NZ sector.
Speaking immediately after the winning announcement, Simon said he felt privileged to be involved in the Young Horticulturist competition and to represent the wine industry. The last few months had been very busy in preparation.
“It was hard work and strong competition to get to this point. But I’m feeling pretty good now and definitely happy the award has gone to Central Otago for the second year in a row.”
Simon will now head to Blenheim for the NZ Wine Awards, then back to his family on Sunday, before returning to work on Monday. He suspects a special celebratory bottle of wine could be consumed somewhere along that journey.
Simon receives not only the winner’s trophy but also $7,500 from Fruitfed supplies in travel and accommodation; $1,000 from ICL Specialty Fertilisers; one-year membership to the NZ Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science; and a selection of Aorangi merchant pruning tools.
The 2019 Young Horticulturist award winner studied a Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenoloy at Lincoln University. He has worked at Two Paddocks as Assistant Vineyard Manager, Central Otago Wine Company as Assistant Winemaker and Domaine Thomson Wines – where he has been for the past 18 months – as viticulturist. He also did a small stint as a vineyard hand in Australia for Treasury Wines.
Simon went to school in Invercargill and now lives in Clyde.
AGMARDT General Manager Malcolm Nitschke says AGMARDT recognises the Young Horticulturist competition truly reflects the diversity of the industry with competing representatives from various sectors.
“AGMARDT is proud to be a significant sponsor of this event, which is a great way to demonstrate to the wider public that there are opportunities for employment and career growth within the horticultural sectors.”
The Young Horticulturist Competition is in its 15th year and remains a rigorous competition that attracts impressive young people from the wider horticultural industry, says the competition’s chairperson Elle Anderson. “It provides an opportunity for personal and professional growth for these exemplary young leaders who will inspire the industry and others to ensure our horticultural industry stays ahead of the world with innovations.”
It’s an important event for the primary sectors of NZ, she says.
For more information and other prize winners please go to: http://www.younghort.co.nz