Annika Salenjus claims 2024 Wairarapa Young Viticulturist of the Year title

21 Jun 2024

Congratulations to Annika Salenjus from Craggy Range who became the 2024 Wairarapa Young Viticulturist of the Year following the competition held at Escarpment on 20 June. She was thrilled to take out the title for the second year running.  

Congratulations also to James Sutcliffe who also works at Craggy Range’s Te Muna Estate Vineyard in Martinborough, who came second.  

This year the Wairarapa and Auckland competitions were combined and Leon Henson from Batch Winery, Waiheke took out third place. He therefore qualifies for the title of 2024 Auckland Young Viticulturist of the Year and will head to the national final to represent his region.

The other contestants - Alex Coombs from Schubert Wines, Peter Graham from Paddy Borthwick, and Kittiya Nuandee from Wall Horticultural Services, all impressed the judges with their viticultural skills, scoring well across the various sections.

It was a magical day as the contestants competed under rainbows in the Escarpment vineyards. They were tested on nutrition, trellising, pests and diseases, budgeting, machinery, wine knowledge, and undertaking an interview.  

The BioStart Hortisports race attracted a good crowd as they went head to head in various challenges including pruning, assembling irrigation, using a grease gun and mixing dilutions. This was followed by a tasty Fruitfed Supplies BBQ lunch. 

Finally they gave their speeches at the awards dinner held at the stunning Moy Hall, where the winners were announced.

There were cash prizes for the top three winners as well as some beautiful Gabriel glassware. Annika also won the BioStart Hortisports and Alex won the Ecotrellis trellising section. Leon was awarded the Ormond Professional Reputation Award whilst James took out the pest and disease section.  

The competition heads back to Escarpment for the 2024 National Final on Wednesday 28 August when winners from around the country will compete for the overall title of 2024 Young Viticulturist of the Year. The winner will be announced at the Altogether Unique 2024 industry celebration at Te Papa on 29 August. There is an amazing prize package for this year’s national winner including a brand new Ford Ranger for a year, a $6,000 Ecotrellis Travel Grant and a Leadership Week. A BioStart Hortisports winner will also be announced along with other cash prizes.

The competition is made possible thanks to the following generous sponsors: BioStart, Ecotrellis, Ford, Fruitfed Supplies, Agritrade, Clemens, Constellation Brands, Empak, Fendt, Indevin, Klima, Ormond Nurseries, Roots, Shoots & Fruits, Waterforce, NZSVO, New Zealand Winegrowers and Winejobsonline. 


- ENDS - 


Images can be downloaded here

For more information and photos please contact NZW Leadership & Communities Manager:; 021 780 948.

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