Return home sparks career change to winemaking

A move back home to Hawke’s Bay gave EIT graduate, Anna Young, the impetus she needed to make a career change and pursue her long-held dream of becoming a winemaker.

Anna, who was appointed Trainee Winemaker at Trinity Hill, Hawke’s Bay in May, credits the Graduate Diploma in Oenology (Wine Science) that she attained from EIT’s School of Viticulture and Wine Science for much of her success.

“The programme really gave me quite an advantage and a really good background for those technical elements of wine-making.’

Anna, who lived in the UK for 12 years, prior to returning home, acknowledges that she “always had a bit of an interest” in the wine industry, having grown up in Hawke’s Bay.

For Anna, who has an Honours degree in Business Studies and Marketing, the timing of her move back to Hawke’s Bay in 2019 was spot on.

“It was the right time for me to really make that jump and do something different,” she says.

It was full circle for Anna, who went to Hastings Girls’ High School before getting her degree at Massey University where she majored in marketing before finishing her Honours in 2002.

She worked for a financial services company in Wellington before the travelling bug bit and she moved over to the UK where she lived for more than 12 years.

“I worked for one of the big banks there, Citigroup, in marketing as well. The job involved campaign and communication management for their different retail products.”

She returned in 2019, not realising, as with everyone else, that COVID-19 would soon disrupt the world.

“It was very good timing and I’m very thankful for that.”

Anna attributes a desire to try something different as the reason for tackling EIT’s Graduate Diploma in Oenology last year.

“To be honest, I had become a little bit disillusioned with marketing. I was sick of sitting in an office staring at a computer every day, and I’d grown up around the industry and always had a bit of an interest, I decided the time was right.”

“I’d done an introductory wine paper when I was back at university, which I really enjoyed.”

The Graduate Diploma in Oenology at EIT provided Anna with the opportunity to combine “the creative, scientific and technical side” of winemaking.

“It’s kind of the best of both worlds, because you have that science element – the chemistry, microbiology, and then you’ve got the creative, intuitive side of winemaking, your sensory analysis.”

After only three months interning as a cellar hand/lab assistant at Trinity Hill, Anna was offered a permanent role as Trainee Winemaker. She is still coming to terms with this “absolutely amazing opportunity”.

“I really think that undertaking the graduate diploma has provided the knowledge and practical experience to secure this role. It has given me all the technical background for the science side of wine-making – not only the how, but more importantly the ‘why’. It is these technical elements and the sensory analysis side you really hone at EIT.”

One could say that the study bug has well and truly bitten as Anna plans to further her studies at some stage in the future. As for the present, Anna’s goal is to “have a long career in wine-making”.

“I really love it and I’ve got great mentors in  Chief Winemaker Warren Gibson and Damian Fischer, the Trinity Hill Winemaker, to learn from as well”.

Warren Gibson, Trinity Hill Chief Winemaker says: “Anna continues a long association for Trinity Hill with EIT. Many and various graduates have spent time at the winery and vineyards over a 20+ year period.”

“We believe both the graduates and Trinity Hill have benefitted from this connection. Anna combined the excellent technical background from the EIT course and importantly, not just this aptitude but also the attitude to help secure her new role. It has given Anna the foot in the door to what should be an exciting future for her.”

Sue Blackmore, the Head of EIT’s School of Viticulture and Wine Science says Anna is a “wonderful example” to anyone who wants to make a career change into the exciting NZ wine industry.

“Anna’s original degree was not in a directly related field but she was able to use those graduate skills to study Viticulture and Wine intensively with EIT to assist her to make a successful shift to a career in the wine industry.”

The EIT Graduate Diplomas (Viticulture Science and Wine Science) have been fully revamped and updated for 2022. Each qualification can be completed fulltime in one year on campus or online with residential schools. BOTH ARE FEES FREE FOR 2022!