After a day in the vines taking on the region's young industry pros, Sacred Hill's Johnny La Trobe won the Hawke's Bay regional Markhams Young Viticulturist of the Year competition.
Mr La Trobe, Sacred Hill's Deerstalker vineyard manager, took out the award on Friday against six other local wine industry hopefuls, and another representing Wairarapa.
The 27-year-old Clive man has been in the industry for five years and competing since 2010, and has been runner up and third placed before.
"Anybody could have taken it out this year," he said. "Seriously it was very competitive, and the calibre of the guys I was up against was really high."
To gain the honours this year, Mr La Trobe won the Harvest Hawke's Bay yield and Bahco pruning section; the Ecotrellis trellising section; the Agtech machinery section and also out-ate his rivals in the 'weetbix in a minute' competition.
"I really enjoy the practical side of things - getting down and dirty," said Mr La Trobe.
For his win, he walked away with a trophy, cash prizes, a travel fund and Spiegelau glassware, and will now represent the region at the national competition in Blenheim in August.
"The whole day is a highlight," he said.
MC for the evening, Sacred Hill winemaker Tony Bish, said Mr La Trobe and other entrants were good news for the local wine industry.
"Events such as this are important for the region: this group of people reflect the future of the industry and it's in good hands."
Two of Craggy Range's young viticulturists were placed second and third in the competition.
Tyler McCoomb came second, winning the Markhams budgeting section, the Biostart Hortisports and the Vineyard Plants wine options.
Third-place honours went to Caleb Dennis, who took out the Pernod Ricard interview and the Waterforce HB irrigation section, deemed to be the most challenging from theoretical and practical aspects.
Villa Maria's Mike Saunders was the winner of the Skeltons chemical shed and spray programme challenge.
And Delegat's Nick Otto took out the EIT speech section with a presentation which examined the question of whether the wine industry should show responsibility to consumers by reducing the size of wine bottles.