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FT-Nov16 43 If you asked American student Ben Jones what he knew about wine two years ago, his answer would have been simple…it comes in two colours – white and red. But 24 months is a long time in the life of a 25-year-old, and the Ohio-born Jones – a second-year wine science and viticulture degree student at EIT – is now being feted as the Hawke’s Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards’ Young Vintner of the Year. Jones met his Kiwi partner Helen at a YMCA camp on Banks Peninsula a few years ago and decided to study in New Zealand. The attraction of the Bachelor of Viticulture and Bachelor of Wine Science degrees, apart from the fact that he has a strong grounding in science having already studied biology and chemistry at college level in the States, was his perception of the winemaker’s lifestyle. “Wine has become a passion,” Jones says. “It’s been an epiphany feeling I am in the right industry now. But if you’d told me three or four years ago that I would be studying to become a winemaker I probably would have laughed. It’s the perfect blend of art and science. The end product is consumed and, for the most part, it’s when people are happy. A bottle of wine can be more than a bottle of wine, it can be a memory, a part of human joy.” Jones, who works part time at a Bridge Pa Triangle winery, lists his favourite wines as those Hawke’s Bay does well – Chardonnay, the Bordeaux blends and Syrah. “I really love this region,” he says. “For one, the climate is amazing.” Jones’ title offers him a significant kick-start to his career – he also benefits from a prize package that will see the award’s sponsor Hawke’s Bay A & P Society helping with his study fees, and valuable work experience at Craggy Range. They say wine is in the blood, and for Jascha Oldem-Selak, that couldn’t be truer. A member of the iconic Kiwi wine Selak family, the third-year Bachelors of Wine Science and Viticulture student has swept the Hawke’s Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards with three silver and two bronze medals…and the 27-year-old couldn’t be happier. Originally from West Auckland, Oldem-Selak qualified as an airline pilot before deciding the wine industry was where he really wanted to be. “This has more meaning to me,” he says. “My background supports it.” Awarded the 2015 Constellation Brands New Zealand wine industry scholarship for a student enrolled in viticulture degree studies at EIT, Oldem-Salek was awarded top student wine for his JOS Methode Traditionelle 2015, made from chardonnay and pinot noir grapes. Demonstrating impressive skills across a range of wine styles, he also won silver for a 2014 syrah and a 2017 vintage port made from merlot, Grenache and cabernet sauvignon grapes, and received further accolades for his sparkling red, JOS Metodo Classico Rosso 2015, as well as a 2015 chardonnay. When he finishes his studies, Oldem-Selak wants to specialise in making sparkling wines using traditional methods; an aim helped by being awarded the 2015 Bragato exchange studentship and spending a month exploring wineries and vineyards in Italy. He also placed third in the 2016 Hawke’s Bay Young Viticulturalist of the Year. Fifteen of the 20 student entries in the wine awards won seven silver and eight bronze awards, the best-ever result for EIT Graduate Diploma in Oenology students who have to work with small lots of fruit mostly donated by local wineries and vineyards. Rohit Saini, Jaykumar Shukla, Navdeep Sidhu, Anirudh Sharma, Pranav Thekkedath and Seth Ho Ka Fai were double silver winners with Blue Wines Sauvignon Blanc 2016 and Blue Wines Merlot Cabernet 2016. Silver also went to Timmy Zhao, Rex Liang and Victor Gouk for their Three Brothers Chardonnay 2016 and Alastair Benham, Tatiana Otto, Ildi Eifert, Isobel Ayers and Jason McCluskey for Team Awesome Sauvignon Blanc 2016. WINE EMBEDDED IN DNA YOUNG VINTNER HAS EPIPHANY PROFILE

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