New Zealand’s Young Viticulturist of the Year Braden Crosby leads a busy life – making wine and running the vineyard for a Wairarapa wine company while studying by distance through EIT in Hawke’s Bay.
Since joining Borthwick Estate in 2008, Braden has continued to set himself challenges. He started working at the Carterton winery primarily in an assistant winemaking role, and has progressed from there.
“In 2009, the vineyard manager left,” he says, “so I put up my hand and said I’d give it a go. It’s been a steep learning curve since then.”
The curve has included aceing the hotly contested Markhams Young Viticulturist of the Year national competition recently held in Blenheim and study for a Bachelor of Wine Science, which Braden started five years ago as one of EIT’s first cohort of distance students for the degree.
If he completes his last three papers this year, the 30-year-old will be eligible to graduate a year ahead of his classmates – EIT’s first fully distance graduate.
Braden has passed more viticulture papers than he needs for the degree and says he studied them out of interest. Nor is he ruling out crediting them towards a Bachelor of Viticulture at some future date.
“I’ve found the distance study good,” he says. “Part of the reason I’ve taken it on is the challenge. You spend the day at work and come home and do things but they’re not mentally stimulating enough.
“Once I’d started, I didn’t want to not finish. It does take up time, but to be honest about half of that is the exercise in time management. If you can manage your time appropriately, you can definitely do it.”
So the immediate challenges now are completing his first degree and taking part in November’s Young Horticulturist of the Year competition – which he qualified to compete in as the 2012 Markhams Young Viticulturist of the Year.
Braden says the viticulture entrant has won the event four times in the last seven years –“but that just adds to the pressure.”
For someone who relishes a challenge, that may not be such a big ask.