Born and raised in Beijing, Kevin and his twin sister Helen moved to New Zealand as teenagers, to attend school in Auckland and then Hawke’s Bay. Kevin, now 20, says wine is not prominent in the Chinese culture, but the trip to Church Road Winery with his father Ping sparked his interest.
“It is a good potential market because there are so many people there. I thought that because I am bilingual it would be to my advantage to study wine here and then bring it back to China one day.”
Kevin enrolled in the degree programme in 2020 and is poised to get his degree at the end of this year, with a highlight of his study being the vintage work experience back at Church Road Winery. Recently Kevin featured in a marketing campaign by Education New Zealand, the government agency dedicated to helping Aotearoa realise the social, cultural and economic benefits of international education.
“I was really surprised to be asked to represent China in the marketing campaign, but I think I am proof that students from China can develop their skills in another country and get involved in the Kiwi culture,” he says. “I feel like being here in New Zealand for six years now has definitely changed the way I think, and it has made me more confident.”
Kevin prefers winemaking to growing “because I am not really a vineyard person”, and enjoys the practical nature of his studies. “Instead of having lectures all day, we do experiments in the lab, make wine in the school winery, as well as taking care of the vines.”
While he is finishing up his degree, Kevin is working part-time at Trinity Hill’s Cellar Door and hopes to continue working there after graduation before heading overseas to gain experience in France and Italy.
This article was first published in New Zealand Winegrower magazine and is republished with permission.