13/04/2018 3:30:00 p.m.
Katrina Jackson, who received the Nikolas Dow Memorial Scholarship in 2014, gained a Bachelor of Viticulture & Oenology (BVO) at Lincoln’s graduation ceremony this afternoon.
Nikolas Dow, known as Niki, graduated five years ago with his own BVO after coming to Lincoln from Auckland’s St Kentigern College. He had been working in 2013 at a vineyard in Portugal, where he and another winemaker were tragically killed in a car crash.
Today’s event was made all the more poignant for Katrina by the presence of Niki’s parents, Maria and Clive Dow, who flew down from Auckland to see her receive her qualification.
“It’s so exciting to have them here to celebrate with me,” Katrina said before the ceremony.
Niki’s family and friends established a charitable trust in 2013 to provide funding to young people interested in careers in the wine industry.
Katrina first met Niki’s relatives two years later when she flew up to Auckland to attend an annual golf event that was organised to raise money for the scholarship.
“I was welcomed into the home of the Dow family and since then, I have spent a lot of time with them,” she said. “They are an incredibly generous and loving family and I keep in touch with them several times a year.”
Niki’s parents said this afternoon that they were proud of their son’s legacy.
“It’s a bittersweet day, as Niki’s graduation was only five years ago, so it’s very fresh in our minds,” Mr Dow said. “But the association with Lincoln means a lot. Other universities are big and impersonal, but Lincoln is different and it’s very special to us. Niki loved it here.”
The group met with Chancellor Steve Smith before the afternoon graduation ceremony, with Mr and Mrs Dow gifting the University a bottle of commemorative wine from the Portugal vineyard where Niki worked.
“The vineyard produced the wine from the 2013 harvest, which Niki had been working on when he passed away,” Mrs Dow said.
“It’s a special label, made as a tribute to the two who were killed and Niki’s name has been printed on the cork.”
Chancellor Smith, also a winemaker, said he would treasure the gift.
Since finishing her studies at Lincoln, Katrina has worked at vineyards in both New Zealand and Portugal, and is now the Assistant Vineyard Manager of Central Otago’s Chard Farm Winery.
“I love having wine-stained hands and the incredible travel experiences I have already had between finishing at Lincoln and graduating,” she said.
The Chard Farm Winery was one of the first vintages to employ Niki, and Mr Dow recently contacted the owner to ask if future Lincoln graduates could be given the opportunity to work there, to carry on the tradition.
“He really liked the idea,” Mr Dow said.
In addition to his interest in viticulture and oenology, Niki was also a keen sportsman and played for the University’s famous Rugby Club during his time as a student at Lincoln. The club now awards an annual cup in his name to the Division Two team player of the year.
The cup can only be filled with red wine, in honour of Niki’s love of winemaking.
PHOTO: Pictured from left to right are Clive and Maria Dow, Katrina Jackson and Chancellor Steve Smith.