Meet Caleb – Vineyard Technical Officer and Primary Industry Champion

My primary role in our vineyards is to
manage our technical programme. That’s things like our spray programmes, our pest and disease,
our yield management monitoring, setting targets for different blocks and setting our viticulture
programme as well. “Everything under control?” So I started out straight out of university. I asked for a reference and got offered a
job. And I basically started out driving a tractor and being the 2IC on some of our regional
vineyards. From there I got involved with a project to do with end to end business software
we were developing. So I developed the vineyard side of that for us. Then, from there that
just grew into the current role I’ve got. I’ve always enjoyed being outside. I’m
also quite interested in the science and business side of things as well, and viticulture provides
a good balance for that for me. But yeah, I came from Wellington, Dad’s
an accountant, Mum’s a teacher, grandparents are teachers, so yeah, no farming in my background. In horticulture there’s certainly a lack of young people, so that does open up
a lot of opportunities for people that look for them. Like anything, if you look for them and you want to go for them they’re there for
you. So we’ve got a real team structure
here. We’ve got the national vineyard manager, myself and then we’ve got vineyard managers
at each of our sites. We make decisions as a group. No-one tells anybody what to do in
terms of viticulture decisions and the responsibility lies with different people within different
parts of the structure. And because of that, we have to work together to achieve the best
outcomes and that actually allows us to achieve a better outcome than just having one person’s
opinion. The weather is definitely the biggest
challenge. It’s the only thing you can’t plan for and can’t change. But there’s
lots of small challenges along the way. There’s nothing you do which is easy. I think that
would be boring if everything was easy. Hand-picking is a challenge. We’ve
got 60 pickers out at one of the vineyards today, so you’ve got to organise all of
that. Organise fruit transport around the country. You’ve got to organise spray programmes.
Everything has got its challenges. I’m doing something different every
day. I’m out there – you never quite know exactly what the next day is going to bring.
You’re continually learning and growing. And what you’re doing is making a difference.
I’m lucky I’m working at really nice winery and we produce some fantastic wine.
And I can take that wine and take it around to a friend’s place for dinner or show people
that wine. I was involved a couple of weeks ago
with a function for all of our key customers. I was pouring some of our premium wine there.
And to be able to interact with those customers and see how much joy they get out of something
you produce is really, really satisfying.

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