• Home
  • News
  • Grape growing and winemaking update

Grape growing and winemaking update

January 30, 2013

The first of the 2013 students at EIT Tairawhiti’s level four viticulture course will be heading straight into the business end of their new industry.

First job on the list is finishing off the 2012 chardonnays, followed by fruit thinning and netting all the vines.

Course tutor Brent Laidlaw says it is the perfect way to start an intensive and very hands-on course, that historically has attracted students from all over the world.

They’re drawn to a unique course that will see them have a true vintage experience in their own boutique winery, with the added bonus of a chance to work with other wine makers and growers in the district.

But it’s also the chance to live in a slice of real Kiwi paradise, that boasts fantastic beaches, a fun outdoor lifestyle and an easy way of life.

“Once we finish off our 2012 wines, students will move straight into crop monitoring, yields and harvest will start around mid March,” says Mr Laidlaw.

The first month or so sees some theory in the classroom, but much of their studies are done in the vineyard, winery and lab.

“This way, students are well on their to having a good grasp of the basic skills before they actually start making their own wine during  vintage.”

During the 43 week long course – which has intakes in January and July to allow students to complete vintages afterwards in either the Northern or Southern Hemispheres – students are heavily involved with the viticultural management of EIT Tairawhiti’s 1.6 hectares of vineyards, which itself has produced medal winning drops.

Grapes are also sourced from other local vineyards to create the premier brand Cognoscenti, along with the Waimata Vineyards label.

Between the two, they have won gold medals at national wine shows and four star status from the likes of Cuisine Magazine and Michael Cooper.

So it’s no surprise, that the 16 places available for each intake, fill fast.

“The hands-on intensive nature of the course make it a fun way to learn,” says Mr Laidlaw. “Combine that with the blend of commercial and learning, and it’s a winner.”

The course attracts students of all ages and from all walks of life. Many have gone on to do very well, either establishing their own labels or working for top wine producers.