The Landing Wines’ Jake Dromgool is headed to the Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year Awards for the second year running.

The Bayer Young Viticultural of the Year competition is a challenging nationwide competition that pits young horticultural specialists against each other in a series of tests. Last year, Jake Dromgool of The Landing Wines’, won the Northland final and competed at the national final. This year, he’s back again with a second chance at the top title. We talked to him about how he’s feeling about the competition, and how the last year has been for him.

You’re off to the Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year final again. What did you learn from last year’s competition that you’ll take into the competition this year?

The national final is a step up from the regional competitions in that it requires an extensive knowledge of the minutiae of each section of the competition. You need to be organised, and you need to be well prepared to deal with a wide range of tasks as well as problem solving, etc. The competition is designed to foster future industry leaders, and in that respect, it is highly demanding.

What would winning the award mean for you?

I would certainly be pretty chuffed with myself. The reality is, as a viticulturist, the only way you can really measure one’s competency is by the hours you spend in the vineyard and the fruit you put through a winery. In saying that, being a Northlander, I’m fairly isolated from the rest of the industry. This is a chance to fly our flag, so to speak, and to let people from around New Zealand know that we exist and also we’re pretty bloody good too. It’s a privileged position to be in. In that, winning the award would engender a heightened level of respect and awareness of what we are creating in the North. It would be pretty special.

How do you rate your chances?

As good as anyone else’s in the competition on the day. I’ve been in the national final before and know what to expect, which should lend me some advantage. It will ultimately depend on how well I prepare myself. With my work at The Landing as well as running my own business and raising a toddler, time to study can often be hard to come by.

What’s the last year been like in the vineyard for you? (We hear the harvest was spectacular.)

The last year has been a Goldilocks year. (Not too hot, not too rainy, just right). Our yields have grown significantly and every bit of fruit that went into the winery was as good as could be. Having tasted a few of the wines in barrel already, the 2019 vintage at The Landing will likely serve as a benchmark for what can be achieved in wine growing in the North of New Zealand. If every year was like 2019, the only problem we’d have as viticulturists would be finding safes big enough to keep all our cash in.