School’s first crop ready to start
The first crop of students have signed up to the New Zealand School of Winegrowing, which had its official launch in Blenheim on Wednesday night.
The school, the first of its kind in New Zealand, was set up by Marlborough Boys’ and Marlborough Girls’ colleges with assistance from the wine industry.
About 40 people attended the launch event, which Boys’ College assistant principal James Ryan described as an opportunity to promote the school.
‘‘Pretty much everyone was enthusiastic and supportive,’’ he said of the assembled winemakers and other industry members.
The school, which will have a focus on wine production, viticulture and the business side of the industry, would be run from the boys’ college starting next year.
Ryan said it would be a different way of learning, taking traditional subjects and contextualising them for the wine industry across a range of different standards.
‘‘So students that may have never thought about doing chemistry may end up engaging with chemistry if it’s taught in a wine context,’’ he said.
The school was for year 12 and year 13 students, and would incorporate practical elements such as field trips, work experience and mentoring by industry members.
Ryan told attendees at the launch event within a few years all the land suitable for growing grapes in Marlborough would be planted, so investing in human resources was key.
‘‘They’re wanting people to do everything from machine operating up,’’ he said of the job prospects in the sector.
‘‘Some of them are desperate, I’ve heard stories of people not bothering to advertise because they think it’s a waste of money and they won’t get the person they want.’’
The Marlborough Grape Producers Co-operative, seeing the benefits of the school to get more young people into the industry, was one of the initial backers of the project. New Zealand Winegrowers had also stepped in with a $50,000 grant, as well as additional support from the local industry body Wine Marlborough.
Ryan said gaining qualifications and experience through the New Zealand School of Winegrowing would set students up to get employment in the industry. ‘‘We can’t wait for it to start,’’ he said.