The inaugural Tonelleire de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker of the Year competition was held this year with heats held throughout the country.

Regional heats were held in August, with Lauren Swift, winemaker at Ash Ridge Wines beating six finalists to represent Hawke’s Bay. The regional winners: Hawke’s Bay – Ash Ridge, Marlborough – Babich and Central Otago – Mount Difficulty, undertook two grueling days of competition to decide the overall winner. Lauren Swift came out as the national winner, a great achievement for one of the youngest competitors.

The Ash Ridge winemaker then jumped on a plane to undertake a vintage in Cote Rotie in France with one of the regions top producers, before returning to Hawke’s Bay to continue to developing the next vintage of stunning boutique wines for Ash Ridge.