January 16, 2012 0 Comments
Before coming to Lincoln, I had a career as a chartered accountant focussed on multi-national software implementations in London. My wife and I wanted to return to New Zealand, but I had no desire to become a small town accountant. I had some interest in working for my father’s vineyard management business, Grape Vision, but we were concerned about my lack of viticultural skills needed for the work. Thus I decided to enrol in Lincoln’s Graduate Diploma in Viticulture and Oenology. The promise of a job at Grape Vision, with potential of eventually taking over the company, provided a powerful incentive to learn as much as possible.
After completing the course I was thrown into the deep end as the operations manager for Grape Vision. This meant implementing the detailed viticultural program my father had designed, whilst absorbing as much information as possible from his forty plus years of experience. Gradually, I became responsible for more of the viticultural decisions, and two years ago I bought the business from him. Today, I employ 40 permanent staff and have a regular summer workforce of 100, peaking at 250 during harvest. Central Otago is a challenging environment for grape growing (its often appropriately called “growing on the edge”) and Pinot Noir is a particularly demanding varietal to grow properly. Add into the mix the challenges presented by 100 staff, 8 tractors and associated machinery and a demanding client base focussed on maximizing quality and minimizing cost, and you have a recipe for a constantly challenging job. I am also currently the President of the Central Otago Winegrowers Association and a member of the NZ Winegrowers Research Committee.
The viticultural grounding I received at Lincoln has been an invaluable theoretical base for the demands of growing grapes at the top end. My career achievements would not have been possibly without the inspirational and knowledgeable lecturers at Lincoln University.