• Home
  • News
  • Conversation with winemaker led to study opportunity at EIT Te Pūkenga for student

Conversation with winemaker led to study opportunity at EIT Te Pūkenga for student

October 16, 2023

Casey Macintosh is enjoying the third year of her Bachelor of Viticulture & Wine Science at EIT | Te Pūkenga.

Casey Mackintosh was working in Wellington when a chance conversation with a Hawke’s Bay winemaker led to her enrolling at EIT | Te Pūkenga.

Currently a third year Bachelor of Viticulture & Wine Science student, the move seems to have paid off because Casey recently came second in the 2023 Tonnellerie de Mercurey North Island Young Winemaker of the Year, following the competition held at Indevin’s Gimblett Gravels winery.

Originally from Northland, Casey’s wine journey began with a chance encounter in Wellington.

“I was working in Wellington in a pharmacy technician role, and I really enjoyed the chemistry aspect of it, but it was just kind of lacking the passion behind it. So I’ve always really liked wine, and I opted into a sales role in Wellington.”

“That’s when I met Gordon Russell, who was the Esk Valley winemaker at the time, and just the way he spoke about wine, incredibly passionate, prompted me to move to Hawke’s Bay two weeks later to pursue this wine career.”

“I just felt like the North Island was just a better fit for me. Hawke’s Bay is amazing and I just felt like I particularly liked Chardonnay. It’s also quite a long growing season and there’s a lot of different fruit in the area.”

Casey, 28, has not looked back since then and is loving the degree. While a fulltime student, she is still keeping her hand in by working at Villa Maria, which is now owned by Indevin.

“They’ve just given me a lot of opportunity to upskill and to keep challenging myself. So once I moved into the production side about three years ago, I started for my first vintage as cellar hand and absolutely loved it and sort of was able to organise to work vintages as well as study full-time.”

“So Villa kept me on as a part-time student during the off season, and in exchange, I would work vintage and every year I’ve managed to secure supervisor positions and just every year, they’ve just given me more and more opportunity to upskill. Yeah, they’ve been phenomenal.”

She says it has been challenging doing both.

“But I really enjoy learning the theory. The lecturers are amazing and passionate, but being able to actually see that happen in the winery has really flicked the switch for me.”

“It’s just kind of solidified those theory learnings into actual practical processes that happen in the winery, so it’s kind of really solidified what I’m learning and it’s been extremely helpful.”

Now working as a junior assistant winemaker at Villa Maria and is enjoying it.

“I am staying on with Villa, I hope to progress further and further into winemaking. I definitely want to get some overseas experience and be able to bring that back. I think it’s vital.”

“Although I joined the wine industry for the love of wine, I feel like I’ve stayed in it because of the people that I’ve met, and just extremely generous with knowledge and the kindness that I’ve been shown is incredible. People are really willing to share things with you if you are interested enough to learn about them,” says Casey.

Sue Blackmore, the Head of the School of Viticulture and Wine Science, said: “The Viticulture and Wine Science School congratulate Casey on her successes academically, professionally and in the Young Winemaker competition.”

“Casey will complete her degree at the end of this year but started study with us with the introductory Cellar Operations course in 2021. As part of her final year degree, she completed a research project on ‘Wine consumption and Behaviour of Gen Z in New Zealand’ that has been greeted with interest by the Wine Industry.”

“Well done, Casey!”