Diploma qualification supports move to sustainable wine growing

25 August 2022

Completing a diploma in agribusiness management is opening the way for Marlborough vineyard manager Phillip Dight to tackle the next big challenge in his role, moving to sustainable wine growing.


The Cloudy Bay Vineyards manager has recently completed the New Zealand Diploma in Agribusiness Management (now named the New Zealand Diploma in Primary Industry Business Management), adding to his list of certificates in viticulture and wine growing.

While this diploma is a pinnacle achievement in his 19-year journey of working and studying in the viticulture industry, he’s not done with study yet.

The sustainability module of the diploma has sparked Phillip to learn more, and he’s set to enrol in a Level 5 horticulture programme in wine growing, which he aims to do with a sustainable focus.

Phillip manages the Southern Valleys area of large wine grower Cloudy Bay’s Marlborough vineyards. It comprises around 60 percent of the vineyard’s Chardonnay crop and a substantial portion of its Pinot Noir grown on heavy clay-based soils.

Skills for industry’s big challenge

Cloudy Bay has a goal to eliminate herbicides from its Marlborough vineyards by 2027, excluding young vines. Phillip says this means adopting best management practices, under vine weeding and soil analysis for under vine management.

“Sustainability is a massive thing for me personally and for the industry. We are going into the biggest challenge and that is working towards zero herbicide use.”

Phillip, who grew up in Marlborough and started out in the industry contract pruning as a teenager, says he was keen to broaden his knowledge on how to run a business, and relished the human resources and financial components of the diploma.

“Because I lead the business decisions, I need to know how to manage staff and budgets. This has given me so much confidence in these areas to achieve better outcomes."

“This is a large-scale operation but as a manager you manage it like it is your own business and your own money.

“I’ve also learnt how to achieve a positive work culture and manage the styles that you encounter with staff members, and this enables you to achieve best results.”

Sharing learnings with others

Phillip says he enjoys continuing to learn on-the-job to improve himself, and the more he learns the more he wants to share his knowledge. “My passion is to teach what I know to others now.”

“I am progressing to be the best I can possibly be and make what I do better. Hopefully I can also teach others to follow suit.”

Phillip says it (the diploma) was a challenge, but he was able to fit the study in around his busy job and young family with the support of his wife Stacey, employer Cloudy Bay and the Primary ITO team.

“My wife is very supportive and understanding and the tutors were very good, they were just a phone call away if I had a question or needed any support.” Phillip says he also appreciates the support of Cloudy Bay, and the opportunity they have given him to undertake the study.

He says the diploma motivated him to keep studying to learn more about sustainable practices. He is looking forward to studying the New Zealand Diploma in Horticulture Production (Level 5) (Winegrowing) with support from Primary ITO.

Click here for more information on the New Zealand Diploma in Primary Industry Business Management.