Young winemakers look ahead to future of wine industry

Young winemakers look ahead to future of wine industry
The New Zealand Winegrowers Young Leaders Forum brought together 18 emerging wine sector leaders from throughout the country to hear their insights on the future of the wine industry.

In September the New Zealand wine industry celebrated 200 years since the first grape vines were planted into New Zealand soils. This celebration gave the New Zealand wine industry the chance to not only pause and reflect on the past, but also look to the future.
“Sustainability has been an integral part of the New Zealand wine industry for well over two decades, and now demands further commitment to protect the places that make our famous wines,” says New Zealand Winegrowers communications manager Amber Silvester.
“Those next steps will come from the commitment and innovation of our future leaders.” Earlier this year New Zealand Winegrowers announced a new development to support and encourage young leaders in the industry – the New Zealand Winegrowers Young Leaders Forum.
The aim of the Forum is to bring together some of the industry’s leading young professionals to challenge and expand their understanding and leadership skills, and to also hear their insights on the future of the wine industry.
The theme for the 2019 Forum was ‘Next Steps in Sustainability’. Eighteen emerging wine sector leaders from throughout the country met in Marlborough on November 15.
Among the young leaders that attended were former finalists for the Young Winemaker of the Year, Young Viticulturist of the Year, and participants from other industry development programmes like the Women in Wine mentoring programme.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern opened the forum by video address, and KPMG global head of agribusiness Ian Proudfoot led the forum.
“New Zealand wine is globally recognised for its distinctiveness and its sustainable production, and provides countless career opportunities for people with drive,” Amber says.
One individual already leading the charge is Simon Gourley, of Domaine Thomson Wines, who was awarded the 2019 Young Viticulturalist of the Year and recently crowned the Young Horticulturist of the Year. It is the second year running an emerging wine leader from Central Otago has taken out both competitions.
Simon focused his Young Horticulturist Speech on how the New Zealand wine industry has been a global leader in improving environmental outcomes, due to the longevity and level of participation in the Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand Programme (SWNZ).
Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand is widely recognised as a world-leading sustainability programme and was one of the first to be established in the international wine industry in 1997. Today, 98% of New Zealand’s vineyard producing area is Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand certified, and 7% also operate under recognised certified organic programmes.

Young winemakers look ahead to future of wine industry
Simon Gourley, the 2019 Young Viticulturalist of the Year, says the challenge for the New Zealand wine industry is to continue to think outside the box.

However, in order to remain a leader, Simon sees the challenge for New Zealand’s wine industry is to continue to think outside of the box: “New Zealand Winegrowers do hold a leadership position with the SWNZ programme,” he says. “But that doesn’t mean we can stand still. These programmes need to be evolutionary, ever-changing, and innovative.
“Talk is not enough. No matter how great our progress is today, we can always do better!”.The industry has taken up this challenge and is undertaking a review of the SWNZ programme to set it up for another 200 years of success.
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