School’s first crop ready to start

Marlborough Express - - NEWS - OLIVER LEWIS

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.

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