EIT is toasting winemaker Nick Picone and distance wine science student Braden Crosby for scoring top national and international accolades in recent weeks.
Nick, who is EIT-trained and senior Auckland winemaker for Villa Maria, achieved an outstanding win in the Trans-Tasman Wine Challenge, beating the Australians for the first time in the award’s 12-year history – and with two Hawke’s Bay wines.
The 34-year-old was awarded The Wine Society’s Young Winemaker of the Year title at a function held in Sydney. The competition is open to Kiwi and Australian winemakers aged 35 and under.
Entrants submit three wines for blind judging and then each finalist takes their best two through to the last round. Nick beat three Kiwis and 10 Australians with Villa Maria Reserve Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2010 and the Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2010.
Growing up in Hawke’s Bay, he learned early about New Zealand’s potential to make world-class premium wines thanks to his father Vince Picone’s vineyard touring business.
Nick started at EIT in 1996, and a month into EIT’s grape and wine certificate he knew he wanted to be a winemaker rather than a viticulturist. He progressed to Bachelor of Wine Science studies and worked vintages at Esk Valley Estate and in California.
Braden has been awarded the coveted New Zealand’s Young Horticulturist of the Year title, having won New Zealand Young Viticulturist of the Year in August.
In also claiming the Leadership prize and a second placing for his Agmardt Business innovation project featuring frost fans which hook into the electricity grid, he won an overall prize package worth more than $26,000. That includes funding for travel to a wine region of his choice.
Braden makes wine and runs the vineyard for Wairarapa wine company, Borthwick Estate.
Five years ago, he started on his Bachelor of Wine Science as one of EIT’s first cohort of distance students. He hopes to complete his last three courses this year, which will make him 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 his degree and says he studied them out of interest. He’s not ruling out crediting them towards an EIT Bachelor of Viticulture at some future date.
Diane Marshall, Head of School, Viticulture & Wine Science and Rural Studies, says EIT is very proud of the two men.
“Their achievements do them great credit and reflect well on their education here.”