Lincoln graduates dominate young viticulturist competition

06 December 2021 | News

Lincoln graduates are strongly represented in a national Young Viticulturist of the Year competition, with four of the six finalists having honed their skills at the university.

The 2021 NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year National Final, originally due to take place last month, was postponed until early next year, due to uncertainty around COVID-19 restrictions.

Lincoln alumni Albie Feary, Jess Wilson, Katrina Jackson, and Tristan van Schalkwyk will be among the contestants heading to an awards dinner on 27 January 2022, to potentially take out this year’s title.

All say they enjoy working in the outdoors and love the variation of the careers they have pursued since joining the industry.

Albie, who completed a Lincoln University Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology in 2011, now works as a Machinery and Vineyard Operator at Ata Rangi, Wairarapa after spending several years yachting around the world as a deck-stew.

A love of plants prompted her to study viticulture and she enjoys learning from industry leaders, contributing to sustainable winemaking and discovering new ways of growing better quality grapes.

Jess, who completed her Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology in 2013, followed by a first class Honours thesis at the University of Adelaide, is a Viticulturist at Whitehaven Wines, Marlborough.

She chose to pursue a career in the wine industry because she wanted a job that offered a combination of science and practical outdoor work and loves the fact that the sector is always looking towards new innovations.

Katrina also holds a Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology from Lincoln and enjoyed undertaking an exchange programme to UC Davis during her time at the university.

Now an Assistant Vineyard Manager at Chard Farm, she had an interest in wine from a young age and originally wanted to become a winemaker but fell in love with the vineyards in Central Otago. She likes getting into the great outdoors and enjoys the fact that no two days are the same in her job. 

Tristan works as an Assistant Viticultural Technician at The Bone Line in North Canterbury, having studied viticulture and oenology at Lincoln. He enjoys learning from leaders in the industry and wants to explore alternative methods to current mainstream vineyard practices.

New Zealand Wine is celebrating 15 years of the competition, with the first NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year title awarded in 2006. Nine of the previous recipients have been Lincoln alumni, reflecting the comprehensive skills and knowledge that students gain through the university’s grape-growing and winemaking programmes.

Learn more about studying viticulture and oenology at Lincoln University.

PHOTOS: Pictured clockwise from top left are Albie Feary, Jess Wilson, Katrina Jackson and Tristan van Schalkwyk.