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'Vine' time guaranteed for all at pruning competition

15 Jul 2011

Keen eyes, anticipation, nerves of steel and razor sharp blades - all these qualities and more will be tested to the limit at this year's BAHCO Australian Pruning Competition.

Professional reputations will be on the line as some of the country's best vine pruners show how it's done while under the pressure of the clock and the critical eyes of an expert industry judging panel.

Competitors will cut, clean and tie established vines while the judges score them on the condition of the wood (spurs and buds), cutting technique and speed.

“The (wine) industry recognises that grapevine pruning is an integral management practice that has a direct effect on the quality of wines. This competition has been developed to reflect best practice and to promote and recognise the skills of our pruners”, said NMIT's Ararat vineyard supervisor, Ben Pietsch.

The BAHCO Australian Pruning Competition is a fun but hard fought event. It's also a great networking opportunity for members of the wine industry while providing hobby viticulturalists and wine enthusiasts the chance to observe the finer points of one of the most important phases in wine production.

New central venue
For the past few years the BAHCO Australian Pruning Competition has been held at NMIT's Ararat campus but this year the event will be held at a new and more central venue - NMIT's Northern Lodge vineyard at Eden Park (20 minutes north of Epping).

Great prizes!
Up for grabs is a BAHCO 9320 Electric Secateur valued at approximately $2,600 (rrp) plus other prizes on the day.

Register now!
Competitors from anywhere in Australia are encouraged to enter with three classes to choose from:

• The 'BAHCO' Individual Event (for professional vine pruners and winemaking/viticulture students)
• Teams Event (for professional vine pruners and winemaking/viticulture students - three people per team)
• The Winemaker/Amateur Event (for winemakers who don't normally prune, hobbyists and first timers)

Competitor registrations close 22 July.

To register contact: Ben Pietsch (NMIT Ararat Vineyard Supervisor)
Phone: 03 5355 3555 Email:

Spectators welcome!
Spectators are also encouraged to come along and support their workmates, classmates or team and learn the finer techniques of vine pruning at the same time.

What: 'BAHCO' Australian Pruning Competition
When: Friday 29 July 2011 (events commence at 10a.m.)
Where: NMIT's Northern Lodge Vineyard. Glen Robin Court, Eden Park, Victoria. (Melway Ref: x910 M11).

Listen to Highlights of an interview with Ben Pietsch (MP3) re the 2011 Australian Pruning Competition. Interview is courtesy of ABC Radio (Central Victoria)

All media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or


Five good reasons to make sure your grapevines are pruned correctly


Ben Pietsch, NMIT Ararat campus Vineyard Manager, gives his Top 5 reasons for pruning vines correctly:

1. Pruning your vine correctly will ensure a balanced, healthy vine for the coming season.
2. Pruning to encourage an open canopy will help reduce the risk of disease.
3. It allows control of the quantity and quality of fruit produced.
4. Correct pruning will help the vine concentrate energy to ensure strong, controlled growth for the coming vintage.
5. It reduces the need for canopy maintenance throughout the growing season.


Interview / Photo Opportunity

All media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or

NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on seven campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.

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