Agribusiness Central Tour 2021

Monday 12th April 2021

Our Year 12 Agribusiness class was joined by the Taieri College Agribusiness class this year for our annual Central Tour. Together we enjoyed the delights offered up by Wrights' Honey, Wynyard Saffron Estate, Burn Cottage Vineyard, Alpha Burn Station, Bike Glendhu, and the Cardrona Distillery.

Cardrona Distillery Vat Room
Cardrona Distillery Vat Room

Future-proofing one's business is as important as marketing one's wares, and the boys and girls had a number of fascinating businesses to choose from as they analysed the operations and questioned the owners about how these companies would still be successful in 5, 10 and 20 years' time.

Wynyard Estate Saffron, Ettrick — Image by: Craig Preston

Interestingly, a number of the businesses were challenged by the students' visits last year and had made a number of changes and additions to their operations to ensure sustained longevity. Key questions centred around website quality and usability, future innovation strategies, and environmental sustainability. 

Bike Glendu, Glendu Bay — Image by: Craig Preston

In a bold, but somewhat risky move, John McRae has all but brought his farming station to a halt, and converted much of his farm into an environmentally sustainable mountain bike park, with world-class tracks, almost 100% solar-powered buildings, and a coffee shop that walks the environmental talk. Add to that a well-used wool-shed for your dream wedding and views to die for, Bike Glendhu is shaping up to be a beacon of Agri-tourism in New Zealand.

Burn Cottage Vineyard — Image by: Craig Preston

Claire Mulholland (Harry Wing's mum), one of New Zealand's top winemakers, introduced the students to biodynamic viticulture at Burn Cottage Vineyard, an innovative method of wine-making that seeks to 'bottle the character of the land/soil' in high-quality Central Otago wines. 

Duncan and Allannah McRae showered us with kindness (including lunch), as is their way, as they showed us the substantial operation that is Alpha Burn Station, and their many agri-tourism arms. They have not evaded the impacts of Covid, but sensible strategies and a policy of 'not having all one's eggs in the same basket' have given them the flexibility to survive and progress.

Cardrona Distillery  — Image by: Craig Preston

Wynyard Estate Saffron and Cardrona Distillery also showed us their unique and high-end products and shared how businesses in the luxury goods market need to plan for times when luxuries are the first to drop off the food and drink budget.

Overall an incredible trip, with many learnings covering three assessment standards in the Agribusiness curriculum. May I encourage you all to support these businesses when you are in the area as they support your kids by providing real-life educational experiences impossible to replicate in the confines of the classroom.

Claire Mulholland with the fabulous wine she makes at Burn Cottage Vineyard...