Viticulture Study Helps Cultivate Leadership Role

2 July 2018

As a 19 year-old, Jeremiah Love worked week-to-week as a field hand in Marlborough’s vineyards, trying to make a living.

But from the outset he looked for ways to improve his knowledge and skills. “I always watched and learnt from experienced guys to improve myself in any way I could,” he explained. “My aim was to be one of the best, if not the best, at every task that was given. That’s the competitive side of me coming out I guess.”

Fourteen years later, Jeremiah is now a field manager for Hortus Ltd’s labour division and is responsible for co-ordinating hundreds of hand-pickers who tend to 15 million vines each summer and 6 million vines in winter.

“My goal for the future is to manage a labour division of Hortus, whether it be in Marlborough or other regions, or even oversees as we have always had aspirations to get into Australia. I also would like to help set up the foundations for other regions with systems, processes and company culture for other up-and-coming guys in the company that aspire to run their own division.”

Jeremiah laid the foundations for his own success by doing an apprenticeship and completing multiple qualifications (including his Level 4 advanced certificate in viticulture) through Primary ITO.

“It was a really good experience for me to not be studying full time but tie my learning in with what I was doing day-to-day. A lot of my papers and assignments could be signed off just by me demonstrating the skills and knowledge I had on the job.”

Other Primary ITO unit programmes such as crop monitoring for pests and diseases helped fill in “pieces of the puzzle that were missing” and helped Jeremiah excel even further.

“One thing that really stuck with me was the frost protection paper. I was studying the information and was then able to identify a lot more in the field when frosts hit. I had a far better understanding of what exactly was going on and could analyse all the options properly. That meant I could also write reports on the frost for the owners and growers with a lot more detail and accuracy which they appreciated.”

Jeremiah credits his apprenticeship for having put him on a solid career path – one which allowed him to buy his own home two years ago. “It’s definitely something this industry has helped me achieve,” he says.

“I would recommend an apprenticeship to everyone. Primary ITO cover everything off really well and they make it easy to achieve because you don’t have to stick to strict deadlines which is really helpful. Viticulture is a seasonal industry so at times we’re really flat out. Primary ITO understands that, so they have flexibility built into their programme.”

Viticulture is an industry which anyone can get into, he says. “You have to, of course, love the outdoors and be a hands-on person who isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty.

“I began supervising for Hortus ltd in 2008 and found that the skills I learnt I could pass onto my teams to improve their quality of job, speed and productivity and also overall knowledge of the job. I also found a lot of job satisfaction in helping others and seeing others progress and succeed.”

One of Jeremiah’s career highlights has been mentoring and supporting Hortus Ltd’s first RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employment scheme) worker from Vanuatu – a man named Joseph Duve – who has now become the company’s first RSE supervisor.

“Another achievement in the last three years has been creating and overseeing new systems and processes that have allowed us to increase our total productivity and has made the last two years in the labour division the most profitable to date. Our seasonal guys have gone home with their highest earnings to date.”

After 14 years, Jeremiah thirst for knowledge and desire to push himself hasn’t waned and he’s keen to continue studying with Primary ITO in future. “Another goal of mine is to learn more about the wine making side of the industry to give me a more rounded understanding. There are plenty more opportunities to be had.”

Learn more about viticulture programmes here.