Growing up listening to her parents’ travel stories, EIT student Alex Peter was keen to head off overseas just as soon as she left Marlborough Girls’ College.
Although she’s now a pretty well-travelled 27-year-old, the Bachelor of Viticulture and Bachelor of Wine Science concurrent degree student was thrilled last year to be awarded EIT’s Bragato exchange scholarship, giving her a month to explore Italian wine regions.
She had visited Rome and spent seven months in Sardinia but says, “Italy was unfinished business”.
Alex is the 14th EIT student to benefit from the Bragato exchange programme.
The scheme’s founder Kevyn Moore, a former president of the New Zealand Grape Growers Association, says she made a very favourable impression in Italy, where she visited wineries, vineyards and the School of Viticulture and Oenology in Conegliano.
For her part, Alex says she had a great time, with each of her hosts offering a different snapshot of the Italian wine industry and culture.
The exchange scheme is named after Romeo Bragato, the legendary viticulturist who, after training at the Conegliano school more than a century ago, went on to recognise New Zealand’s potential for winegrowing.
After meeting some visiting Italian winemakers in 1999, Kevyn, with wife Corinne, was asked to talk to Conegliano students about Bragato at the premier viticultural school’s 125th jubilee. That became the catalyst for the annual exchange, which is supported by the Rotary Club of Taradale.
A degree student from the University of Padua who has attended the school in Conegliano visits New Zealand wine regions and EIT on a month-long trip during the year and, like the New Zealand equivalent, attends the Bragato Conference staged by this country’s winegrowing industry.
The University of Padua, one of the oldest in Italy, has a campus on the same site as the school in Conegliano and shares buildings and vineyards.
Once she completes her EIT studies, Alex is keen to forge a career that will combine her twin passions, viticulture and winemaking. She’s already gained considerable experience in the industry, having worked at Marlborough’s Tohu and Giesen Wines, had vintages in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and Margaret River in Australia and is now combining study with work as part of the cellar door crew at Church Road.
Kevyn is delighted that the exchange programme has proved such a great success, and that it continues to build strong bonds between those associated with the wine industries in both countries.